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On air at 17GMT: Rupert Murdoch closes News of the World

Ros Atkins Ros Atkins | 14:36 UK time, Thursday, 7 July 2011

News International's boss Rupert Murdoch


This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 7 July, 2011. Listen to the programme.

UPDATE: News International has announced the edition of the News Of The World this Sunday will be the last one ever. Full reaction on WHYS at 1700GMT.

Ros's original blog post: I began my morning looking at the Huffington Post's new UK incarnation. And swiftly moved to the Independent as the HuffPo was linking across to a column by former WHYS presenter Steve Richards. In it he argues that this week the influence of Rupert Murdoch over British politicians has been reduced, and that that is to be celebrated.

There is certainly is no disputing the scale of Mr Murdoch's influence not just in politics, but also sport, news, films and to a lesser extent music (mySpace didn't go to plan and has recently been off-loaded).

A blog post is not the place for a broad ranging sweep of Rupert Murdoch's power and influence (there have been books which struggled to pack it all in), but I can start a conversation about whether we should acknowledge, that with that power and influence has come innovation, entertainment and investment in the media that we like to consume.

Let's consider some of this:

Rupert Murdoch famously invited Tony Blair to visit him while Mr Blair was the leader of the opposition. Shortly after the soon-to-be leader jumped on a plane to Australia for a meeting. It was a measure of Mr Murdoch's importance - and you could argue that Tony Blair had a point as The Sun, The Times, the News of the World and the Sunday Times are all in his stable.

And it's not just in the UK where Rupert Murdoch has serious political influence. No US politician could afford to not speak to Fox, and in Australia, politicians are as keen to keep the Murdoch press sweet as their British counterparts. How politicians should approach the man is addressed in this Matthew d'Ancona column.

Another important question here is whether that's any different to any number of other businesspeople and media owners trying to have their say.

Fox News may not to be everyone's taste, but it's handed out some lessons on how to get people watching news in decent numbers, and how to up the ante on the style of TV news. Those of us who work for BBC News watch Sky News closely, not just because it's a rival but because it has an appetite for innovation that makes you think about what you do. I'm not saying I like everything Fox and Sky go for, but they're pushing things all the time and that, you could argue, has forced TV news to evolve.

In a completely different arena, let's remember that it was Rupert Murdoch more than anyone else who has bucked the trend of free content online, and said to us all pay or you won't see it. We won't be left wondering if paywalls work, because News International is happy to find out for us, putting up restrictions on The Times' website for instance.

There's huge investment taking place in India and China to add to vast cash injections into US national and regional stations. Again, the presence of Murdoch stations not only gives you more to watch but arguably gives you something distinct to watch too (though some of you may not like it). It's worth adding that it's Mr Murdoch who pays for the Simpsons.

Rupert Murdoch owns 20th Century Fox and as such is a huge player in the film industry. Did you see Avatar? The hundreds of millions that that ground-breaking film cost were put up by 20th Century Fox. I'm not saying if the film was good or not, but James Cameron was given the means to do some things which hadn't been done before. Should we applaud the investment? Here's a list of other big 20th Century Fox films.

The English Premier League has been built on Rupert Murdoch's money. If you like seeing Drogba, Tevez, Fabregas, Nani and co ply their trade for the big English clubs, that is in no small part to the huge lift in incomes which came with Sky's investment in the game. That's not to mention the revolution in the way that it was filmed.

Australian and American sport too have seen major investments from News Corp owned companies.

And on I could go.

There are clearly criticisms of News of the World practice that everyone is agreed are warranted. There's also long-standing hostility to Rupert Murdoch in many different quarters. But does the scale of his vast media empire necessarily mean that it's to be seen as a threat rather than a valid contributor to the media we all consume.

Over to you...

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