Thursday, 15 January 2009

The Evening Standard for sale to Russian oligarch

For all those people predicting the death of newspapers, here's why you're wrong:

"The billionaire and former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev is to buy London's Evening Standard tomorrow, in a dramatic move that would see him become the first Russian oligarch to own a major British newspaper, can reveal."

But hang on Alex, why are you going to piss your money away in a failing industry?  

"As far as I'm concerned this [buying the Standard] has nothing to do with making money. There are lots of other ways. This is a good way to waste money,"

So there you have it. When once newspapers provided a service to their readers and a profit to their shareholders, in the future they will purely be a plaything of their owners.

Fancy an introduction to the Prime Minister? Buy a paper. Fancy a chat with the Mayor of London. Buy a paper. A few foreign property deals. Buy a paper. Some protection from a thug. Buy a paper.

Still, the Standard has always been a bit of a propaganda rag hasn't it? It couldn't get any worse could it?

"The Russian tycoon also wants to establish a new editorial and advisory board for the Standard. This could include heavyweight global figures such as Mikhail Gorbachev – the former Soviet president and Lebedev's personal friend – as well as Tony Blair, former French president Jacques Chirac and leading Russian editors."

Oh please. Could it get any worse?

"The paper would be less under the influence of its sister paper, the Daily Mail, sources suggest, and would not necessarily reflect the Mail's rightwing editorial line."

That's something I guess.

"It would probably continue, however, to support Boris Johnson, London's Conservative mayor, they add."

Some things change. Some things they stay the same...


Eugene said...

"When once newspapers provided a service to their readers and a profit to their shareholders, in the future they will just be a plaything of their owners." ~ I normally agree with most the content of this blog but isn't this a very rose tinted view of the past? There is an Australian you need to read about named Rupert Murdoch. Too recent? How about William Randolph Hearst?
Newspapers have been the plaything of the wealthy since well before any of us were born.

AdamB said...

Yes of course, but they also had to consider their readers and their profit margins first and foremost. Once newspapers are run at a loss, then they will be purely a plaything. Murdoch is not as political as people think. He mostly backs politicians he thinks will be winners because he's a businessman at heart. Lebedev is of a different order.

Anonymous said...

Either way I'm not buying it, whether its Lord Rothermere, Paul Dacre, Tony Blair, or Putin himself pulling the strings. Save yourself the 50p and buy a decent newspaper.

Tom said...

Blair for Boris has a nice ring to it.

AdamB said...

Well Boris has become quite the man of Blairite-style triangulation of late, so it's not as unlikely as it sounds.

He's pretty handy with a lie as well.

Chris said...

The Standard has been loss making for some time, so this won't change things from that perspective. The only real difference will be swapping Dacre for an ex-KGB agent. I hear Dacre is scarier!

AdamB said...

You're probably right Chris, and other papers run at a loss as well. Until now though the intention has always been to make them profitable at some point. If there's no desire for profitability, then it is just influence and propaganda. Why not just make it free and hand it out instead of the London Lite? If it's influence you're interested in, then why not?

Jujupiter said...

What the fuck would Jacques Chirac do at the Standard?!

AdamB said...

The accounts?

Jujupiter said...

Well, one thing is for sure, he wouldn't go for the food. :D