News UK

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News UK is a British news organisation, part of Rupert Murdoch's empire. It owns newspapers The Times, The Sunday Times, and The Sun, a TV channel TalkTV, and some radio stations and other businesses. Its outlets generally have a right-wing political bent.

It was formerly known as News International, taking its current name in 2013 in the wake of the phone hacking scandal and Leveson Inquiry which forced the closure of its former newspaper News of the World for vast illegality. In 2016 it bought the Northern Irish media group Wireless Group, which owned various radio stations including the populist talk station TalkRadio, as well as music and sports channels. In 2022 News UK launched a TV station, TalkTV, which is based on TalkRadio with added content from the likes of Piers Morgan.

The Times[edit]

The Times and The Sunday Times are august names in British newspaper publishing, with The Times traditionally considered a newspaper of record. The Times began as The Daily Universal Register in 1785, changing its name to the current version in 1788; The Sunday Times was founded in 1821.[1]

In 1981, Rupert Murdoch took them over, guaranteeing editorial independence and that the papers not be merged.[2] These requirements were formally lifted in 2022, but had long been a joke.[3]

The Sunday Times enjoyed a lot of success in the 1980s, despite a few missteps like publishing Adolf Hitler's diaries, which turned out to be fake.[4] For much of the decade it was edited by Andrew Neil, who proved to be a high-profile and controversial figure who went onto a long career in newspapers and TV. In the 1980s and early 1990s it published AIDS denialism notably by its health correspondent Neville Hodgkinson, who claimed the disease AIDS was unconnected with the HIV virus.[5]

The Times repeatedly and falsely claimed that former Labour leader Michael Foot was a spy for the Soviet Union in an attempt to smear the Labour Party; even Andrew Neil criticised the paper for this.[6][7]

The Sunday Times indulged in a variety of illegal or immoral activities to engage stories: in 2018, Byline Times reported that for 15 years during the editorship of John Witheroe the paper paid a man called John Ford to hack emails and illegally obtain phone records and bank details of people in the news. Examples included accessing bank records of Tory leader William Hague to see if he was having an affair with a researcher, buying her presents, or paying for hotel rooms (he wasn't).[8]

In February 2022 The Times attempted to smear Black Lives Matter and the LGBT organisation Stonewall by falsely claiming the Department of Education had described them as "biased" and tried to have them banned from schools. In reality the government had not mentioned Stonewall and only made a passing reference to BLM, urging caution rather than a ban.[9]

In June 2022, The Times published and then swiftly removed a story by Simon Walters claiming Prime Minister Boris Johnson had attempted to employ his then-girlfriend, later wife, Carrie in a well-paid job while he was foreign secretary. This story mysteriously disappeared from the paper's website, apparently after the government asked them to take it down.[10]

TalkRadio[edit]

TalkRadio has a format based around phone-ins and news. While known for its right-wing voices, it employed dodgy socialist grifter George Galloway for a while until he was sacked in 2019 after breaching media impartiality rules, including for defending Russia over poisoning incidents in the UK, calling a listener who disagreed with him a "gutless coward" and an "ignorant moron", and for his arguably antisemitic tweets. The channel was fined £75,000 for Galloway's breaches of broadcasting regulations.[11][12]

It employs right-wing populist broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer who has been criticised for many things. These include anti-mask rhetoric during the COVID pandemic.[13][14][15] She is staunchly opposed to trans rights and attacks non-binary people, gender-inclusive policies, and gender-neutral facilities.[16] She claimed to have banned the word "cis" from her radio show, which is a common tactic of transphobes who for some reason object to the term "cis women".[17]

As well as Hartley-Brewer, it also hosted COVID denialist content from Mark Dolan who cut up a mask on air to protest about their use.[18]

TalkTV[edit]

TalkTV launched on 25 April 2022, widely seen as a response to the other populist right-wing TV news channel GB News which launched shortly before. TalkTV's regulars include former newspaper editor and TV presenter Piers Morgan and The Sun's former political editor Tom Newton Dunn. It launched with Morgan interviewing Donald Trump, with some confected scandal claiming that Trump had walked out, which the ex-President denied.[19] Trump called Morgan's show "Fake News Media" and claimed TalkTV had "unlawfully and deceptively edited his long and tedious interview with me."[20] There isn't actually a law against using editing to make Trump look an idiot, or even to make Morgan look a good interviewer, though the latter is harder than the former.

Reviewing early coverage, The Independent attacked the channel's "staggering levels of deference" towards Prime Minister Boris Johnson in particular, who was given soft questions and allowed to talk uninterrupted for long periods.[19]

References[edit]

  1. See the Wikipedia article on The Times.
  2. 1981: Murdoch bids to take over Times, BBC On This Day, accessed 21 June 2022
  3. 10 Favours the Government has done its Press Friends At Our Expense, Byline Times, 15 Feb 2022
  4. The Hitler Diaries: How hoax documents became the most infamous fake news ever, The Independent, 5 May 2018
  5. Newspaper will continue to question HIV link with Aids, The Independent, 24 June 1994
  6. Labour figures slam claim that Michael Foot was paid by Soviets, The Guardian 15 Sep 2018
  7. Andrew Neil leads criticism of Times over claims Michael Foot was ‘Soviet sympathiser’, The Independent, 15 Sep 2018
  8. The Wapping Whistleblower – 15 years hacking and blagging for the Sunday Times, Byline Investigates, 7 March 2018
  9. The Times Smears Black Lives Matter and Stonewall, Byline Times, 21 Feb 2022
  10. How Number 10 Killed the Times Story About Boris and Carrie Johnson, Adam Bienkov, Byline Times, 20 June 2022
  11. George Galloway sacked by talkRADIO over allegedly anti-Semitic tweet, BBC News, 3 June 2019
  12. TalkRadio fined £75,000 over ‘impartiality’ failure with George Galloway’s comments on Salisbury poisoning and antisemitism, The Independent, 17 Feb 2020
  13. Julia Hartley-Brewer may face legal action over claim about doctor's mask sales, The National (Glasgow), 28 Dec 2021
  14. Julia Hartley-Brewer mocked for bragging about going mask-free on the tube, The Mirror, 23 June 2021
  15. This Morning fans complain over Julia Hartley-Brewer's 'selfish' views, Yorkshire Live, 21 Nov 2021
  16. Radio host Julia Hartley-Brewer has condemned gender-neutral changing rooms after Topshop restated their inclusive policy., Pink News, 9 Nov 2017
  17. TalkRadio host Julia Hartley-Brewer threatened to remove a guest from the studio during a discussion on trans rights because he used the term “cis.”, Pink News, 3 Dec 2018
  18. Talkradio's Jamie East quits after fellow presenter cut up face mask on air, Press Gazette, 20 Sep 2020
  19. 19.0 19.1 'Staggering levels of deference': What I learnt from watching TalkTV for a week, The Independent, 4 May 2022
  20. Piers Vs Donald: Spat Breaks Out Between Piers Morgan And Former POTUS Over Talk TV Interview, Deadline, 21 April 2022