THE media baron Rupert Murdoch has been making warning noises about the effect of the internet on conventional media, such as the press and TV, for some time now but his speech to the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers in the City of London on Monday evening spelt out his views in considerable detail. It is not that he is opposed to, or critical of, the internet. He said: “A new generation of media consumers has risen demanding content delivered when they want it, where they want it, and very much as they want it.” And he compared today's internet poneers with such intrepid explorers as Christopher Columbus and John Cabot. Mr Murdoch's message was that the world is at “the dawn of a golden age of information, an empire with new knowledge” and that what he called “the old elite in the newspaper industry” must “change or die”. He spoke in almost apocalyptic language about the power of developing technologies to build and destroy, not just companies but countries.
He warned that “societies or companies that expect a glorious past to shield them from the forces of change will fail and fail.
That applies to my own, the media industry, as to every business on the planet.” Rupert Murdoch has just celebrated his 75th birthday but he seems as keen to meet the challenge of the internet to his global media empire as he has been to seize opportunities in the past. The British government's White Paper on the renewal of the BBC's Charter must be examined in the light of the climate of change that Mr Murdoch envisages. By the time a new 10-year Charter expires the media scene will probably look very different indeed from today.
To its credit, in recent years the BBC has been in the forefront of digital technology and internet application; it will need to remain there if it is to have a future in its present institutional form.