Gordon Brown: The Sun is trying to be a political party

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw have both criticised the activities of Rupert Murdoch’s businesses in the UK.

Gordon Brown criticised the Sun newspaper, accusing it of trying to “become a political party” and saying it “made a terrible mistake” when it decided to switch allegiance and back the Conservative party last month.

In a separate address to Labour pressure group Progress, Bradshaw told supporters that the commercial interests of Rupert Murdoch’s News International were fully aligned with Tory culture policy.

Bradshaw warned of the impact of David Cameron’s media policy, especially on the BBC, claiming the Conservative’s plan to tear up annual licence fee charter renewal was “an unprecedented assault on the BBC’s independence that no previous government, not even Margaret Thatcher, had contemplated”.

The culture secretary, the Guardian reported, said Cameron had backed Murdoch’s call for an end to impartiality in broadcast news but that removing impartiality “would pave the way for a UK version of Fox News”.

The Sun’s recent decision to back Cameron was, in this light, a purely commercial decision, designed by Murdoch to protect himself from a strong Ofcom, he said.

In an interview with GQ magazine, to be published next week, Gordon Brown told former Mirror editor Piers Morgan that he had know for some time Sun was to shift allegiance to the Conservatives.

“I have a lot of admiration for Rupert Murdoch personally,” Brown told GQ. “His family comes from not far from mine in Scotland, and his attitudes to hard work and getting on with things you can only admire. But the Sun has tried to become a political party.

“It’s not personal about Rupert; he’s always been very friendly to me. I think the Sun’s made a mistake but that’s up to them.

He added: “I think the Sun tried to become a political party that day and that was a terrible mistake. And I suspect over time that their readers will think that, too.”

The Guardian reported that Brown told GQ that media coverage has become increasingly personal in recent times, which he thought was a mistake.

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