1990s >> 1990 >> no-1027-march-1990

Between the Lines: MURDOVISION


Would you pay Rupert Murdoch to let you watch his cheap, shoddy Sky TV network? Most TV viewers in Britain have answered very clearly. They have refused to buy satellite dishes and show little sign of being prepared to give their money to Murdoch so that they can watch bad game shows and old movies. One year after the launch of Sky TV the enterprise has been a failure, reaching far less than its original target audience. Murdoch appeared on The Media Show (C4. 8pm. 3 February) to defend his TV network He appeared to be a man who not only owned The Sun but also read it, and it is clear that if the control of culture is to be left to money-worshipping billionaires like him the future looks pretty bleak. As the Australian controller of Sky TV explained, when asked whether he thought that the channel was a threat to media quality, after working on satellite TV for a year now. I don’t think I know the meaning of the term quality” Quite so.


Notes In The Margin 1980-1990 (BBC2. 8.20pm. 1 February) was presented by Rosalind Coward. Her look back to the Eighties surveyed the growth of public concern about the environment. As a feminist, whose writings have tended to expose the claims of those who suggest that Nature determines what is normal. Coward has good reason to be cautious in the face of some of the current greenish noises about the need for humans to live in harmony with nature. She is not opposed to the principle of ecological balance Far from it. she seems to agree with the view of the Socialist Party that humans will only have a future if they see themselves as part of the environment rather than as its destructive masters.

Coward’s concern is about those people who have suggested that there is some kind of Nature—normally depicted as a person (Mother Nature) and as female—which humans must obey and that failure to obey Mother Nature means that we shall be punished. Coward showed the example of the advocates of so-called alternative health therapy who tell people that illness is a result of failing to have the right mental attitude to Nature. Therefore, if you have cancer it is because you have had the wrong attitude to living; if you adopt the right lifestyle Nature will be kind to you. This sort of eco-fascism. which suggests that Mother Nature is some kind of tyrannical and punitive goddess who will hurt those who fail to fall in line with Her laws, is dangerous nonsense. Of course, it is a material fact that if you live in conflict with your environment you will harm it as well as yourself, but Rosalind Coward was quite right to point out that it is idealistic self-deception to imagine that illness and mortality are the products of bad thinking. Certain radical Greens adopt a rather smug attitude concerning proper lifestyles. They leave out of account the material pressures upon millions of workers which leave them no option to live healthily. They also fail to see that much of what they imagine to be “natural” is only the norm in a society which puts money before people Coward did a good job in warning us of the philosophical baggage carried by many well-meaning greenish folk


We pointed out last month how TV played a key role in spreading ideas during the recent workers’ upsurge in Eastern Europe It is interesting to note, in support of this claim, that when Azeri workers tried something similar, one of the first actions the Russian army took was to disable the TV station in Baku to stop it playing the role it had in Eastern Europe The Azeris were motivated by politically unsound nationalist sentiments, but once workers have the right ideas in their heads it will be just as well for Rupert Murdoch and his gang to book themselves a room reservation on the next space shuttle.

Steve Coleman