That was really the only reason for holding an inquiry in the first place. Instead, the inquiry - to be led by former Federal Court judge Ray Finkelstein - will focus on print media regulation, including online publications, and the operation of the Press Council - a body generally considered to be next to useless. This is akin is calling an inquiry into the liquor licensing board in Capone-era Chicago. Until you tackle the gangsters running the show, the Keystone cops appointed to police the precinct are going to prove plod-like in their pursuit of wrong-doing.
Competition lawyers would know better, but it seems to this blogger that News Ltd's cartel-like dominance of the media landscape could be dealt with through existing competition law and its provisions covering abuse of market power. Alternatively, as shareholder activist Stephen Mayne has suggested, there is ample evidence to attack the Murdoch empire on corporate governance grounds.
As it is, it is hard to imagine how the Press Council can be given any additional teeth when it is run by the newspaper industry, which in turn is dominated by Murdoch. In the meantime, this inquiry will just be more grist to the mill for the wind-up hysterical poobahs in the News Ltd papers and the skinny-suited, funky-spectacled, hair-gelled libertarian shills at the Institute of
It would be a lot easier to take seriously these blowhards' shrieking about attacks on the Fourth Estate if they followed a couple of the key principles of free market economics themselves - namely support for a multiplicity of voices and the encouragement of competition. Instead, they cast as the put upon victim the world's biggest and most powerful media company - a company that pays off police, uses its news pages to lie about public policy in support of its commercial interests and bullies politicians.
Agreed, there is no evidence of News' Australian operations behaving illegally like their UK counterparts, but the corporate culture here is the same - bullying, self-obsession, hyper-sensitivity to criticism and the hijacking of proper journalistic standards to fight manufactured culture wars, to serve tax-dodging agents of international capital and to pursue self-serving blood vendettas.
But don't take my word for it. Even some of News Corp's shareholders - aghast at nepotistic practices and lousy corporate governance - are taking legal action, claiming a failure by the company to "exercise proper oversight" and "gross mismanagement, waste and abuse of control".
As goes the corporate culture, so goes the editorial culture. News Corp is rotten - and until its empire is broken up and/or Murdoch himself dies - nothing will change.
(See also Tim Dunlop: An Inquiry that Ignores Ownership is Pointless)