Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The death of TV cricket

This is the first summer since 1971 in which I have not watched a single ball being bowled live in an England Test series. It's left me feeling a bit bereft at times. In my bachelor days, sitting down with a couple of beers for a whole leisurely afternoon of ball-by-ball Test cricket was one of the great pleasures in life.

Sadly, this has not been possible since the foolish and completely counterproductive decision by the English Cricket Board to abandon terrestrial TV cricket coverage in favour of Murdoch's millions - all the more foolhardy since the decision was taken at the very moment when cricket had seemingly regained its rightful place in the national consciousness following the 2005 Ashes win.

Much as I miss watching the game, it's a price I'm prepared to pay for refusing to line the pockets of the man who has debased British culture and journalism more than any other single individual in the last 30 years.

Those now eulogising John Biffen should take note of this. For all his other many virtues, Biffen as Trade Secretary was the man who allowed Murdoch to buy The Times in 1981 and thereby emerge as the most powerful media figure in the UK.

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Greater Manchester Fabians said...

Hi Paul
I've linked to your blog on our site, was hoping you could return the favour



MorrisOx said...

This is following a pretty depressing pattern.

Far too much of it this year, and available only on satellite.

Now where've we seen that before?

Anonymous said...

Whilst I agree that Murdoch hasn't been the best influence...what are your views on Maxwell in comparison?

Paul Linford said...

Anon 21.50

Maxwell had a pretty baleful influence on the pensions industry, but I think his influence on the newspaper industry was limited. With the exception of Alastair Campbell, whose judgement of people has since been shown to be pretty flawed to say the least, he was regarded by most journalists and fellow proprietors as a joke, albeit a bad one. No-one could ever say that of Murdoch.

Iain Dale said...

Paul, you seem to have missed the last part of the final sentence of your piece. I assume it would have read "and thereby saving a great newspaper from closure."

Paul Linford said...


I am very happy to debate this with you, but closure was not the only alternative to the Murdoch sale as Harold Evans' book "Good Times, Bad Times" makes clear.

There were in fact several other offers on the table, including one consortium led by Sir James Sherwood of Sea Containers and a management/employee buy-out bid led by the then Times editor William Rees-Mogg.

The problem with these consortia, in the eyes of the Thomson Organisation managers who were conducting the sale, was that they envisaged separate sales of the Times and the Sunday Times, and therefore the break-up of Times Newspapers Limited. One very influential voice was that of Sir Denis Hamilton (father of Anthony, grandfather of Seb) who had created TNL from the merger of Lord Astor's Times with Lord Kemsley's Sunday Times in the 60s and wanted to see the company survive intact.

In fact Hamilton was sold completely down the river by Murdoch. His reward for having supported the deal - or at least for not having spoken out publicly against it - was to be removed from office as chairman of TNL at the earliest opportunity.

I agre with you that the Times, by virtue of being the only true newspaper of record that we possessed, and the Sunday Times, by virtue of the brilliance of its investigative and campaigning journalism under Evans, were both great newspapers, but the truth is Murdoch destroyed those very qualities that gave both papers their claim to greatness.

For what he has done to my profession, I despise him more than any other living indivudual - and, yes, that includes Alastair Campbell.