With his media empire under fire in the west, NewsCorp chief eyes the Middle East market.Embroiled in a scandal that has global implications, Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is under fire due to the ongoing fallout resulting from the News of the World scandal.
But while News Corp remains under heavy scrutiny in the UK, US, and the rest of the West, the launch of Abu Dhabi-based Arabic language news channel Sky News Arabia is still on track.
For someone interested in assisting in starting a television network with a planned initial reach of 50 million viewers across the Middle East, Murdoch has an interesting perspective on regional issues that affect the would-be consumers of the new Arabic channel.
“My own perspective is simple”, Murdoch told the Anti-Defamation League on December 13, 2010. “We live in a world where there is an ongoing war against the Jews.”
Murdoch emphasised “the importance of good relations between Israel and the United States”, stating: “Some believe that if America wants to gain credibility in the Muslim world and advance the cause of peace, Washington needs to put some distance between itself and Israel. My view is the opposite.”
In a speech Murdoch gave when receiving the American Jewish Committee’s National Human Relations Award in March 2009, less than three months after the end of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, he referenced Gaza and said: “The free world makes a terrible mistake if we deceive ourselves into thinking this is not our fight. In the end, the Israeli people are fighting the same enemy we are: cold-blooded killers who reject peace … who reject freedom.”
Ari Rabin-Havt, Executive Vice President of the media watchdog group Media Matters, says Murdoch’s Fox News in the US “is one of the most bigoted, anti-Muslim channels on TV”.
“Their hosts, contributors, and guests were vocal opponents of the planned building of an Islamic cultural centre near ground zero,” Rabin-Havt told Al Jazeera. “One of those guests was anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Pam Geller, who compared the centre to building a Ku Klux Klan ‘shrine’ near a black church in Alabama.”
Murdoch’s Middle East connection
Billionaire Prince Walid bin Talal bin Abdelaziz Al-Saud, a nephew of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, has, according to Forbes magazine, a net worth estimated to be at least $19.6bn. This makes him the 26th wealthiest person on the planet, as well as the richest man in Saudi Arabia.