. . . tricky times in the United States for Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News as its swivel-eyed commentators heap abuse and scorn on everyone involved with the so-called Ground Zero mosque – which, for all the furore, is not really a mosque and won’t be built on the site of Ground Zero. Directly in their sights is Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the public face of the scheme. He’s got some dodgy friends, says Fox’s slanderer-in-chief and Tea Party favourite Glenn Beck. All hotly denied and very unedifying.But it’s true to say that Rauf does have friends. One such apparently is Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, who is reported to have donated large sums in the past towards good works performed by Rauf’s social and cultural organisations. Bloggers in the US also point out that Prince Alwaleed is the second biggest shareholder in News Corporation after Rupert Murdoch. So the Fox types aren’t just angry, after all. They are also commendably fearless.
Elsewhere in the Guardian‘s financial pages we learn that UK independent Shed Media has increased profits by 22%. They make popular BBC programmes such as Who Do You Think You Are? and soapy drama Waterloo Road as well as programmes for US television. Earlier this month, Time Warner took a controlling stake in the company, so it isn’t really ‘independent’ at all.
With Murdoch’s bid to increase his stake in BSkyB to a majority share and Richard Desmond’s purchase of Five, the UK TV ‘ecology’ (as Alan Yentob just described it on Radio 4’s Media Programme) is due for more shake-ups as the final stages of the digital switchover approach. Watch the skies!