Rupert Murdoch – Battle With Britain

Sunday 28 April

9.00pm-10.00pm

BBC TWO

Rupert Murdoch’s reputation has taken a battering in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal. He is accused by some of corrupting our media and contaminating our politics. But the caricature image of him as the 'Dirty Digger', the sinister head of a global media empire arguably obscures deeper, more significant truths – not least about Britain.

Rupert Murdoch can be seen as an agent of change, a revolutionary almost, who some would argue has been a vital part of the transformation of Britain over the last 45 years.

He rode the wave of social change that swept a gloomy post-war country into the modern world, and his ability to understand what people wanted and give it to them made him rich and powerful. From his takeover of the News Of The World in 1968, at the age of 38, 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 he bought The Sun in 1969, it was a failing newspaper, selling less than 700,000 copies. Within 100 days, its circulation had doubled. By 1978 it was the biggest-selling newspaper in the country and its backing of the Conservative Party helped Margaret Thatcher to her first election victory in 1979.

But his part in this cultural, political and industrial revolution also brought Rupert Murdoch into conflict with the Establishment and vested interests in all their guises, and may ultimately have cost him his life’s ambition – to see the business he’s built carried on inside the family by one of his children.

Meeting the editors, colleagues and rivals who have played a part in Murdoch’s career, including his controversial purchase of The Times in 1981, the launch of Sky television in 1989 and the phone hacking scandal in 2011, presenter Steve Hewlett tells the extraordinary story of Rupert Murdoch’s 45-year battle with Britain.

MH