Ofcom regulation "astonishing", says Murdoch
In his MacTaggart lecture at this year's MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, Murdoch said Britain should move away from a model of regulation that had its roots in "the early years of British broadcasting [which] were dominated by concern about the potential of new technology for creating social disruption".
"The amount of detailed content regulation in UK broadcasting is astonishing," said Murdoch. "Two or three times a month, Ofcom publishes a Broadcasting Bulletin - a recent version weighed in at 119 pages. Adjudications included judgments on whether it is fair to describe Middlesbrough as the worst place to live in the UK; and 20 pages on whether a BBC documentary on climate change was fair to two of the participants.
"Every year, roughly half-a-million words are being devoted to telling broadcasters what they can and cannot say."
He criticised Ofcom's non-content activities: "In the past five years Ofcom launched nearly 450 consultations - nearly two every week. It has produced three Public Service Broadcasting annual reports, and two Public Service Broadcasting reviews in five phases. These alone have in total - including appendices, special reports and other related material - amounted to over five thousand pages and spawned another 18,000 pages of responses. And those reports have been only a small proportion of the total activity by the regulator.
"For any of you who missed them this has included science fiction - a report on 'Entertainment in the UK in 2028' and the no doubt vital guide on 'How to Download', which teenagers across the land could barely have survived without."
He said that content regulation and advertising regulation in tandem with the BBC's "dumping free, state-sponsored news on the market" resulted in "an impingement on freedom of speech and on the right of people to choose what kind of news to watch".
"Governments and regulators are wonderfully crafted machines for mission creep. For them, the abolition of media boundaries is a trumpet call to expansion: to do more, to regulate more, control more.
"Sixty years ago George Orwell published 1984. Its message is more relevant now than ever."