Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Balance sheet

Who would have guessed… Rupert Murdoch has some kind of a conscience, better known as a balance sheet.

Murdoch has scrapped OJ Simpson's book and scheduled television interview calling the project "an ill-considered decision".

We all know why he did… no one was going to buy the book (published by News Corp-owned Harper Collins) or watch the TV show (on News Corp-owned Fox). Advertisers were pulling out and that's really it. Game over.

Murdoch isn't concerned about the morals of this project, where OJ Simpson describes a hypothetical way of killing his ex-wife. He did apologise, but it’s a little late. The book was due to be published on Nov 30 and he waited to the last possible moment before changing his mind and bowing to intense pressure from the US public. I'm sure he would have ploughed on, if it would had made a buck or two.

When I first heard about the project, it seemed almost impossible to work out at first why anyone would do it. I was being slightly stupid, of course, as I forgot to enter pots of money into the equation. Doh! Simpson had signed a deal worth £1.8m although he personally wasn't getting the cash -- his family were. So that's OK then.

I'm sure when Harper Collins signed the deal they thought it was gold. A book about OJ and a TV interview to sell it, how could it all go wrong?

But still, as barrel-scraping goes, this takes the biscuit. OJ Simpson was cleared of murdering his former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her "friend" Ron Goldman in 1995 but was then found liable for their deaths in a civil case and had to pay as much as $35m in damages.

Murdoch's News Corp had planned to publish Simpson's book called 'If I Did It' (described as an "imagined confession”), and a television special later this month.

But there has been genuine outrage in the US and rebellion from Murdoch's own Fox TV network, which is one of the more surprisingly twists of the case.

In the interview, Simpson was to have spoken in hypothetical terms about how he would have committed the 1994 killings?! It’s so bizarre. Clearly OJ has some time on his hands and pretty much thinks about nothing else than: how would I have done it? Not that he did of course... because he's innocent. A court case proved that. Well, one of them anyway.

"I think News Corp finally stepped up, admitted they made a mistake, and did the right thing," said Jonathan Polak , a lawyer for Fred Goldman, Ronald Goldman's father. "This is everything we have been asking News Corp. to do for the past two weeks."

According to various reports, at least a dozen Fox affiliates across the country had already decided not to air the interview and all the advertisers wanted out. It would have appeared as virtually paid-for programming. Who wants to have their product associated with OJ and schlock like this?

Michael Palmer, vice president and general manager of WFVX, the Fox affiliate in Bangor, said his station would have reluctantly aired the interview had Fox broadcast it. "It was reprehensible, and certainly not something suitable for the holidays."

There you have it: not suitable for the holidays.


At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I first read about this, I thought I was hallucinating. It makes me realise how old I'm getting, for I actually thought "What is the world coming to?"


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