Is this a way of for Gordon to distinguish himself from the Blair era?
According to the Independent this morning there is a big campaign going on at Westminster to block BSkyB (Chairman R. Murdoch) from gaining effective control over ITV. More than 60 MPs have signed up to a motion calling on the Government to use its special powers to prevent such a move taking place. They want it referred to the Competition Commission.
The MPs fear that with the Murdoch company already having 40% of all TV revenue then anything that puts more power in its hand could be a threat to competition.
The Labour MP behind the Commons move, John Grogan, says “…..”I understand why leaders of the Labour Party are always going to be concerned about the opinions of leading newspapers but I don’t think newspapers like The Sun have the dominance they had 15 years ago. It’s important for Gordon Brown, as part of his new appeal, to appear slightly austere. He is going to want to distinguish himself from Mr Blair’s approach in a number of ways. I hope this is going to be one of those ways.”
The Treasury is saying that Brown is keeping his hands off any decision about ITV’s future. This is a matter for the Trade Secretary, Alistair Darling, who is expected to make an announcement later this month. Darling is, of course, a leading Brownite.
That’s fine except that as the Prime Minister in waiting he’s increasingly expected to have a view on the full range of issues – not just Treasury ones.
Publicly backing the move to impede the ITV take-over would be an ideal way of showing that Brown is his own man and that things are going to be different with him in charge. It is a risk, of course, but one that would win widespread support in the rest of the media.
Is he going to do it? Probably not – though he might surprise us.