US Media Mogul Hunts Fox

28 January 2005

If the fox in question had been of the vulpine variety, billionaire media veteran Ted Turner would have been crushed beneath a mass of baying animal-rights campaigners.

But it was Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Channel into which Turner sank his teeth - to the sound of applause from those members of the American public who prefer their news untainted by political bias.

Addressing the annual conference of the National Association of Television Program Executives in Las Vegas, Turner condemned Fox News as a propaganda tool for President George W Bush, calling it a "danger to democracy in America".

The founder and one-time owner of the immensely respected Cable News Network, Turner indicted media consolidation as one of "the five biggest problems we face in America". He criticized Big Media in general, and Fox News in particular, for their cosy relationship with government.

Such organizations were doing "a lousy job" of informing viewers about current events, opined Turner. The Murdoch channel peddled "dumbed down" news, its predisposition to superficiality in times of war being "very, very disturbing".

Consolidation among media groups was strangling America's media market - in which "ninety percent of cable companies are owned by the broadcast networks".

Such hegemony inhibited new entrants to the sector: "Consolidation has made it almost impossible for an independent. Certainly it's virtually impossible to start a cable network. The broadcast and cable companies are starting them themselves. They don't want independent voices."

He turned again to Fox News, saying it deprived viewers of political and economic information in favor of "an overload of fluff", adding: "We need to know what's going on in the world. A little less Hollywood news and a little more hard news would probably be good for our society."

Turner (67), said he had contemplated the idea of running for US president but ... "I'm too old and too burned out to take on that responsibility. I thought about it when I was younger. I don't know if I could have gotten elected or not. It would have been a lot of fun to do when I had higher energy levels."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff