Sky News would be more popular if it were more like the US Fox News Channel and could achieve that without a change to UK impartiality rules, Rupert Murdoch has told a Lords committee.
Speaking to the House of Lords Communications Committee in New York on 17 September, the News Corp chairman said adopting the approach of its US cousin would make Sky News ‘a proper alternative to the BBC“.
Murdoch told the peers that Sky News could become more like Fox without changes to broadcasting impartiality rules.
According to minutes of the meeting, published by the committee today, Murdoch told the peers the only reason Sky had not become more like Fox was that ‘nobody at Sky listens to me”.
He went on to say that the reason no such alternative exists is that British broadcasters don’t know any better. Murdoch said that the BBC trains many UK broadcasters, meaning that people working in commercial television are not trained to make commercial decisions.
‘The BBC has a unique place in British life’which makes people very hostile to any challenge to the Corporation, Murdoch told the committee.
Murdoch told the committee that the UK was ‘anti-success”, and that concern about Sky’s purchase of a 17.9 per cent stake in ITV was ‘paranoia”.
The UK regulatory regime had prevented News Corp from expanding as much as it would have liked in the UK, he said, such as through the purchase of local evening newspapers.
The success of local evening papers in the UK, he said, illustrated that the population was always interested in local news.
Murdoch told the committee that the internet and attracting young readers were the biggest challenges for traditional newspapers.
Young people, he said, are not turning to physical newspapers to get their news, particularly in the US, but also in the UK.
After several unsuccessful attempts to reverse the trend, he now sees his job as getting your people to visit the websites of his newspapers.
Long-term investment necessary
Murdoch told the committee that large media companies sometimes need to make long-term investments before seeing a return. He cited Fox News, which he said had absorbed five years of losses before it became so successful that cable companies would not dare drop it.
Siimlarly, he said that after two years, MySpace was making 20 times more money than when he bought it. By the end of the year, he said, advertisers would have access to thousands of differentiated target groups on MySpace.