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Murdoch 'face' of drive against US media liberalisation

LONDON - News Corporation chief Rupert Murdoch has become the unwitting star of a TV and press ad campaign in the US that opposes the relaxation of media laws in the US and argues that easing laws will put Murdoch on every channel.

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The ads depict Murdoch as "The man who wants to control America", with his picture the only available choice on TV screens. The TV ads show a viewer flicking through station after station, only to find that Murdoch is on every channel.

The campaign warns: "Murdoch wants more. Much more. Unless we act now, Rupert Murdoch is going to get his way".

Three groups, including pressure group, against the liberalisation of US media ownership laws have collaborated to come up with the ads, ahead of an expected decision from regulator the Federal Communications Commission to green-light changes allowing TV and radio stations, newspapers and cable operators in one region to be owned by one company.

News Corp is not the biggest media player in the US, but his empire is growing. He owns Fox Television, the Twentieth Century Fox film studio, and newspapers including the New York Post. His latest purchase is the $4bn takeover of satellite TV broadcaster DirecTV.

Although AOL Time Warner, Disney and Viacom are bigger than News Corp, Murdoch has been used because of his high-profile status.

In the UK, Murdoch's power in the media industry is causing a sticking point in the progress of the communications bill. Relaxation of a law that would allow Murdoch to control TV station Five is being opposed in the House of Lords, as is the rule that will allow non-EU companies to control ITV.

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