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We wanted an Arab revolution and we got a British one instead! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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I have written repeatedly that the Arab media itself is in need of a revolution, but it seems that the revolution has in fact materialized in the British press. We wanted a revolution in our media to expose the Iranian lobby that has infiltrated our ranks, as well as the media in favor of Gaddafi, his friends and his son Saif al-Islam, and even the pro-Huthi media [in Yemen]; but instead the revolution took place in the British media!

Britain as a whole today is in a state of astonishment with regards to what happened, and is happening, within Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. The phone hacking scandal that the “News of the World” and other Murdoch-owned newspapers have found themselves at the center of has reportedly affected nearly four thousand British people, from ordinary citizens to members of the royal family and even former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his family. New developments in this crisis are being revealed on an almost daily basis, with the scale of this crisis increasing day by day, and ultimately resulting in News International abandoning its bid for BSkyB. This phone hacking scandal is therefore something that could significantly affect the future of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, and may even spell the end of his son’s future [within the company].

Murdoch was not as obsessed with the Sky network of channels; rather his obsession was acquiring the parent company, which he already owns a 39 percent stake in, but not a controlling stake which would allow him to dictate company policy. Therefore those watching “Sky News” for example, can clearly see that the channel’s coverage of the phone-hacking scandal is extremely harsh and critical of the Murdoch media empire. However because it was Murdoch’s dream to takeover BSkyB, this was the focus of the battle that has been raging in Britain today, with many British MPs and influential politicians calling for Murdoch to withdraw his bid for the company, which is indeed what happened.

The real revolution within the British press today is that this unelected but extremely influential figure, namely Rupert Murdoch, is facing the possibility of his media empire – which became used to targeting and indeed crushing whoever it liked – being destroyed not just in front of public opinion but in front of parliament. Indeed British parliament may call him [Rupert Murdoch], his son [James Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation], and News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, to give evidence before parliament about the phone hacking scandal. This is therefore clearly a revolution, particularly as the so-called “newspaper of scandals” is no longer the only newspaper being accused [of phone-hacking], with accusations now being leveled at respected Murdoch-owned broadsheets such as “The Sunday Times” and “The Times” newspapers, not to mention “The Sun” tabloid. Therefore what is happening in the British press today is a genuine revolution, and all British newspapers today are being threatened by change. Today the relationship between politics and the media has changed, according to British Prime Minister David Cameron, and even the press’s relationship with the police has changed, especially as the investigation into the phone-hacking has implicated Scotland Yard officers. This is extremely dangerous, and is something that will have huge implications in the future.

Of course, all those who are familiar with the scene in Britain feel that we are facing a scandal like the Watergate scandal which brought down then US President Richard Nixon. However in the British version, the phone-hacking scandal that has struck the British press could bring down senior leaders in London and elsewhere. The question that we, the Arabs, are concerned with here is: when will we see an Arab media revolution to bring down senior leaders whose time in power has come to an end?

When will we see an Arab media revolution that will remove these leaders who are ripe for the picking?

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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