Labour’s deputy leader has called on all political parties to work together to legislate for the break-up of the Murdoch family’s media empire in the UK on the eve of a keynote speech from Rupert’s daughter Elisabeth at the Edinburgh International Television festival.
Harriet Harman, declaring that “the age of deference to the Murdochs is over”, said she wanted to make an “open offer” to the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to hold talks on setting tighter limits for media ownership once Lord Justice Leveson’s report into press standards is published.
She said it was time “to deal with the issue of the invincibility of the Murdoch media empire.” Harman added that “the context had changed entirely” from when her brother James Murdoch gave the same lecture three years ago. Her speech is expected to set out a personal agenda that differs noticeably from that of her brother, who is still number three at News Corp. In 2009, James Murdoch sharply criticised the BBC and Ofcom and ended his remarks by observing that for news media “the only … guarantor of independence is profit”.
Two weeks after making those remarks, James Murdoch met David Cameron for breakfast at the George club in London and told him privately that the Sun, Britain’s best selling newspaper, would come out and back the Conservatives – an endorsement that was made public three weeks later during the Labour party conference.