All right, I have a confession: like Dave Cameron, I too have schmoozed with Murdoch.
I just thought I should put this on public record in case The Guardian exposes me. I don’t want this blog’s reputation to be tarnished by revelations of my former misdoings, so I’m coming clean. Murdoch had lunch at my house and I once had two glasses of rather nice Chablis chez Murdoch. Both events happened in 2002, when Rebekah Brooks was Editor of the News of the World, though I don’t think she knew about them – unless one of her hacks had violated my Palm Pilot.
There, I feel better now it’s out in the open. I hope you’ll forgive me and continue reading my blog. Please don’t call for me to be arrested, or avert your gaze if you spot me at the fish counter in Morrisons. It was a long time ago, after all. And the Murdoch in question wasn’t Rupert, but Lis: Elisabeth to the rest of you.
She’s the dark horse (well, blond, actually), who may be the key to the survival of the Murdoch regime. Named after her matriarchal grandmother, she earned the respect of independent television producers by resigning from her Dad’s empire to make her own way, launching Shine from a gloomy converted church in Notting Hill Gate.
Like the rest of us, she struggled for years to persuade broadcasters to throw her the odd commissioning crust. She found out the hard way just how tough it is to break through the walls of arrogance and risk-avoidance at places like the BBC and Channel 4. She did manage to sell some shows to Sky, thanks largely to a generous output deal (BSkyB owned 5% of her business, so it was obliged to give her some crumbs) – but she was determined to make it on her own, and later raised squillions to buy some major production companies to add to the business. I was absolutely delighted when earlier this year she persuaded her Dad to cough up around £300million to buy Shine, and his daughter, back into the News Corporation fold.
Right now, with politicians calling for the head of his son, he needs Elisabeth to help avoid the death of the dynasty. She’s tough, outspoken, connected, honest and fiercely independent. And she said she liked my cooking, which gets a big tick from me. I suspect she’ll come riding in like a white maiden and save the day for the old Aussie codger.
Despite the terrible mistakes of his newspaper underlings, I’ve always had a certain respect for her Dad. Anyone who takes on the establishment and wins, defying the crusty bigots on the way, gets my vote.
A couple of years ago I heard him speak at one of those turgid broadcasting conferences. We’d been dozing all day while young besuited things droned on about the future of media, and then in bounced this 80-year-old with more foresight than the rest of them put together. He’s a man of huge energy, who almost single-handedly transformed the world’s media landscape, bringing more creative diversity into the entertainment industry than any government-led initiatives over the last 50 years. He created a new network in America when people said it was impossible, and wiped out the official BSB satellite station with his upstart Sky, giving us multi-channel broadcasting as his legacy.
Without Sky, life with Izzy would be one long CBeebie, so we thank God for Rupert every day. Above all, he vigorously supported the loss-making Sky News, which has won more awards for its excellent, unbiased reporting than the vastly better-resourced BBC.
Frankly, I wouldn’t have a huge problem with him owning Sky and taking ITV into the bargain, but then, I’m not a politician. And my vote can’t count anymore as I’ve already supped with the devil. Well, lunched with his daughter anyway.