24 July 2010

Further to my last

Tom Bower's article in the Guardian's CiF column on Richard Desmond's acquisition of TV Channel 5 sums up the mixture of snobbery, envy and personal vindictiveness that characterises so much of British "quality" journalism. Bower's Wikipedia entry reads as follows:
A former Panorama reporter, his books include highly critical unauthorised biographies of Tiny Rowland, Robert Maxwell, Mohamed Al-Fayed, Geoffrey Robinson, Gordon Brown and Richard Branson. He won the 2003 William Hill Sports Book of the Year award for Broken Dreams, an investigation into corruption in English Football. His biography Conrad and Lady Black: Dancing on the Edge was published in November 2006. 
The final sentences reveal the axe he has to grind, which really should disqualify his comments about Desmond from serious consideration:
An unsuccessful libel case over a passing mention of Express proprietor Richard Desmond in the book was heard in July 2009. A biography by Bower of Richard Desmond, Rough Trader, awaits publication.
Which puts into context Bower's opening salvo:
The choice of Richard Desmond as the new owner of Channel Five beggars belief. Never before has a government regulator (Ofcom) lowered the threshold for the suitability of the prospective owner of a TV channel enough for someone like Desmond to control a potentially lucrative franchise. Desmond's success owes much to the general ignorance about his rise to power. Protected by Britain's libel laws and a pact among newspaper proprietors not to attack each other, Desmond has successfully concealed his colourful past to become a major media player in London.
In other words, buy my book. And oh, by the way, if Channel 5 is such a "potentially lucrative franchise", why did it go for a mere £103 million? Desmond offered twice as much as any other bidder, and Ofcom had no choice but to approve a sale that preserves the channel's independence.

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