Saturday, August 04, 2007

Business viewspaper

Tony O'Reilly, in an interview with the New York Times --

Q. Rupert Murdoch’s pursuit of The Wall Street Journal evoked a lot of discussion about editorial interference. As a newspaper owner with strong views of your own, what’s your take?

A. Rupert interferes in his papers because he has the time, inclination and the talent to. But people forget how clever Rupert is. It would be a commercial mistake, and Rupert has made very few commercial mistakes in his life.

I bought my first newspaper in 1973, the same year I was made president of Heinz. I made an election not to interfere in my newspapers. I had no time — I was selling ketchup in Pittsburgh and soup in London. I decided not to interfere, and because of that, my own views in regard to the war in Iraq would be more akin to Tony Blair’s. I think he’s been a fantastic prime minister of Great Britain.

It's unfortunate that the only context New York Times readers get for this answer is that of O'Reilly's ownership of the (London) Independent, because anyone familiar with his running of the Irish Independent would have a different view. It would become much too long a post to provide the details, but the crux is the editorial attitude of the Independent to the Republic's last non-Fianna Fail government, the 1994-97 Rainbow.

And in particular, the possible links between that attitude and two business activities of O'Reilly -- a company providing microwave television service which was angry about the pace at which the government was shutting down unlicensed microwave operators, and a company which bid unsuccessfully for a mobile telephone license. All of a sudden, it was payback time.

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