Since the phone-hacking scandal, Rupert Murdoch’s reputation has taken quite a battering as he’s been accused of corrupting our media and contaminating our politics. But the caricatured image of him as the sinister head of a global media empire arguably obscures more significant truths – especially about Britain. Murdoch can be seen as an agent of change who, some would argue, has been a vital part of the transformation of Britain over the last 45 years.
Murdoch rode the wave of social change that swept a gloomy post-war country into the modern world while his ability to understand what people wanted and giving it to them made him rich and powerful. From his takeover of the News of the world to acquiring the exclusive rights to Christine Keeler’s memoirs a year later, Murdoch outraged polite society and set the tone for years to come.
When, in 1969, Murdoch bought The Sun it was a failing newspaper that sold less than 700,000 copies. With 100 days its circulation had doubled and by 1978 it was Britain’s biggest selling newspaper. The Sun’s backing of the Conservative Party even helped Margaret Thatcher win her first election in 1979.
But Murdoch’s part in this cultural, political and industrial revolution also brought him into conflict with the Establishment and vested interests in all their guises. This conflict may ultimately have cost him his life’s ambition namely to see the business he’s built carry on inside the family of one of his children.
Presenter Steve Hewlett meets the editors, colleagues and rivals who have played a part in Murdoch’s career. This documentary highlights Murdoch’s purchase of The Times in 1981, the launch of Sky in 1989 and the recent phone hacking scandal. Through these interviews, this documentary is able to tell the extraordinary story of Murdoch’s 45 year battle with Britain.
Rupert Murdoch: Battle with Britain airs tonight on BBC2 at 9pm
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