09/12/2016 Newsnight


Vince Cable on Rupert Murdoch's bid for Sky TV. Whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova talks about the Russian doping scandal.

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Rupert Murdoch strikes to get his empire back as the media


mogul's 21st Century Fox bids for Sky.


This was the deal that crashed and burned five years


What will the regulator say now, and would this deal be good


This is perhaps Rupert Murdoch's last chance to reunify the firm he


founded and cement his legacy as the most powerful man


We'll talk to the man who, as Business Secretary,


The Russian Olympic team corrupted the London games


More than 1000 Russian athletes across more than 30 sports


have been implicated in an explosive report into doping today.


We interview Yulia Stepanova, the whistleblower whose revelations


led to the Russian athletics team being banned from Rio.


She tells Newsnight she is now hiding in fear for her life.


We'll be asking the President of the World Anti Doping Agency


And are other countries just as bad?


It looks like Rupert Murdoch might be about to get his empire back -


The owner of 21st Century Fox was thwarted in his efforts to get


Sky back when his now defunct newspaper News of the World became


embroiled in the Milly Dowler phone hacking scandal.


But he's been putting pieces of the jigsaw in place.


Murdoch's son, James, returned as chairman of Sky


in January this year, and he is also the chief executive


An ally of Rupert Murdoch's told me tonight that he always had


an emotional attachment to Sky and was pulling out


all the stops to get it back - he already owns a 39.1% stake -


But, despite the fact Sky's deputy chairman Martin Gilbert has


told me the price was good and one he feels should be put


to the shareholders, will the regulators be so sanguine


about Ruport Murdoch's - perhaps - last big play?


Rupert Murdoch has done some surprising things in his life


like aged 84 getting married to model Jerry Hall


One thing that surprised no one, though, is his renewed


For Rupert Murdoch this is unfinished business.


I mean, the modus operandi, you know, all of Murdoch's


companies, NewsCorp, 21st Century Fox, you name it,


has always been own and control or dispose.


Don't get caught half owning something, or owning something


significantly other people have control of.


February fifth, 1989, the door of television's new age.


Rupert Murdoch lost control of Sky in 1990 when lack of cash


forced him into a merger with British Satellite Broadcasting.


With BSkyB's share price down 30% on the year,


and the pound at 30 year lows against the US dollar


following the Brexit vote, Rupert Murdoch knows that the deal


that he's never given up on might never be cheaper.


Added to that, his calculation is the political climate that


sunk his last attempt has now changed decisively in his favour.


Mr Murdoch withdrew his last bid in 2011 when it crashed into a wave


of public revulsion over the phone hacking scandal,


and particularly the interception of voice mail messages


There were also concerns about diversity of media ownership,


Even if there is concern, I would assess those


as being slightly less of an issue now than they were.


But even when you go through the entire process,


first of all remember you have the BBC sitting


in the corner as the biggest game in town by far.


Secondly, you know, for a deal this size,


it isn't really very much skin off 21st Century Fox's nose to come up


with some way of guaranteeing Sky News's independence


if that is what they end up having to do.


The media landscape is very different from 2011 with streaming


services like Netflix and Amazon on the rise, nevertheless


Sky is still a huge player and a huge price.


Our North America Business correspondent, Michelle Fleury,


-- burst, will second time round the The Jambos to mark


if you look at what is happening to TV and film, the film industry has


changed massively. We see a wave of consolidation going on. The example,


after buying direct TV, AT is trying to buy Time Warner. If you


take Fox, with its huge European footprint, Fox would gain access to


a huge number of consumers. That would help it compete against the


likes of Netflix and Amazon. More and more of us are not watching TV


lies necessarily, but are streaming, this is the way to respond to that.


-- live. The other thing is price. Sky's share price is down 27% since


the start of the year. That means if you are looking at doing this deal,


well, it is getting cheaper than it has in the past. The other thing is


the fall in the pound. That is after Brexit. That is playing in Rupert


Murdoch's favour. 21st Century Fox makes its money in US dollars.


Vince Cable was Business Secretary at the time of the last


Lebas and Mark two has gone. Rebekah Brooks is back. -- the Leveson


Inquiry Mark two. This takeover is exactly the issue I faced six years


ago, which is the extent to which there is genuine plurality, choice


in the media. It is a highly concentrated business. There is an


issue of plurality now as there was then. At the time I referred the


matter to the competition authority. They concluded there was a problem.


They sought remedies and the thing fell through. I think the same


issues present themselves as now. Rupert Murdoch withdrew the bid


because of the controversy over the phone hacking scandal. Would a big,


powerful commercial media group in the UK be such a bad thing?


Potentially it could be a bad thing. In respect of news specifically.


Because this is where plurality matters. In order to get its


broadcasting licence Sky News would have to remain impartial. It is not


as if it is going to be influenced by Fox. Indeed, but that is not a


matter for me, you, or independent commentators, it is a matter for the


independent commission authorities and the regulator, Ofcom, to decide


whether the rules can be reversed, and whether there would be genuine


independence. Thanks very much. David Elstein is a former Head


of Programming at Sky and Chief Executive


of Portobello News. With this be a bad thing in terms of


plurality? I don't know why it would be an issue with plurality at all.


Sky would be owned by 20 -- would be owned by 21st Century Fox. To be


perfectly honest, there wasn't a media plurality issued last time.


That was completely bogus. I hope that... Well, that shouldn't be a


public interest intervention in this case. There is no basis for one, of


course. I hope Sky manage to avoid putting any rings around Sky News,


which might inhibit its long-term financial future. Rather than rings,


you heard Vince Cable say that there was a concern about impartiality of


news. But actually, last time round, Rupert Murdoch was going to set up,


as it were, a separate, not exactly a trust, but a separate organisation


to deal with Sky News. Is it possible he might do this this time


round? There is no need to do it this time around because there is no


issue. Sky News has been an exemplary observer of the


impartiality rules. It is governed by the impartiality rules. Let me


put that stricter Vince Cable. There you are, there hasn't been any


breach of impartiality. -- straight to. It has been a good independent


organisation. Because they are separate companies there is not an


issue. But there is the same controlling influence. Whatever he


says... The simple truth of the matter is when we referred it to an


independent commission authorities last time they judged that there was


a threat to media plurality. This was their independent judgment.


Regardless of what people in the industry say about it. But there is


no reason to suspect, or may be the media landscape has changed so much.


The Ofcom analysis was hopelessly wrong. It was the most embarrassing


document Ofcom has ever produced. There was no plurality issued. There


should never have been a prolonged negotiation like there was. There


should never have been a need for the undertakings that News Corp at


that time offered. But at that time, it was one company, now it is two.


So it just does not arise. What about the fit and proper persons


test? During the time of the phone hacking Ofcom questioned James


Murdoch's and actions. They said his actions fell short of how a chairman


should have acted. They took the test. They passed Sky as an


operation. They did the test, Sky past, and on we go. Phone hacking


was a terrible disaster. A disaster for its victims. A disaster for the


company. A disaster for the reputation of the press in the UK.


As far as we know it has gone. As far as we know there is no evidence


that James Murdoch knew about it, improved it, authorised it, or any


of that. Now that all of the lawsuits are out of the way, now


that the prosecutions have gone, the issue, as far as I can see, it


doesn't arise in this context. In a sense, Vince Cable, they have been


cleared. There have been issues of deleted e-mails recently brought up


in the courts, but by and large there is no stain. I think the


public would be more reassured if are the first Leveson Inquiry have


led to something. But it hasn't. Why should Rupert Murdoch suffer for


that? Part of it has never been investigated. The oversight of the


media is as bad, or as it was back in 2010. This is a separate issue


from plurality. But the plurality issue remains. And I think he don't


accept David Dale Steyn's wishing away of the Ofcom report as


incompetent. -- David Yates Elstein. -- David Elstein. I'm interested to


see where you think the problem arises with Fox getting a hold on


the European... They have the same controlling force behind them. They


are legally separate companies but with the same controlling influence.


The same overarching control, that's the problem, David. Absolutely. The


Murdochs have always run Sky. They have always operated their interest


separately. Let me reemphasise. The Ofcom report may have been


independent, but it was deeply, deeply flawed. Ofcom has never


attempted to respond to my critique. I am sure they hope that document


never sees the light of day again. It wasn't Ofcom's finest hour. It


was not Vince's finest hour. He had to leave his job as secretary of


state after he admitted that he launched the public interest


investigation as part of his war on the Murdochs. It is personal, is it?


I think I've been vindicated. I referred it to the competition


authorities. They are independent. Nothing to do with me. Not


political. And they judged, as I did, that there was an effect of


plurality and that remains. Thank you very much indeed.


"A dangerous slide towards political interference in sport."


Vladimir Putin's response to the McLaren report


which confirmed widespread state-sponsered cheating


among the country's top athletes across four years,


is surely evidence that we live in a looking glass world.


McLaren, the Canadian law professor who ran the investigation


for the World Anti-doping Agency found that Russian athletes


corrupted the 2012 Olympics on an unprecedented scale and says


that we will probably never know the true scale of the scandal.


Now the IOC is to retest all Russian samples from 2012.


Yulia Stepanova the Russian athlete, who first blew the whistle


on Russia's widespread doping, which led to the row over


Rio, is now in hiding, somewhere in America,


She has told the BBC she believes she will be killed


Yulia Stepanova, Russian champion, world-class athlete


Branded a traitor in her motherland, she and her husband helped


expose cheating in Russia on a colossal scale.


The revelations from this most controversial couple led


to a humiliating ban on Russia's entire track and field team


Outraged, President Vladimir Putin immediately responded,


saying his sports men and women were victims of double standards.


After revealing the dirty secrets behind Russian athletics,


the Stepanovs, with their young son, Robert, have spent the past


They are currently in the United States.


They are unlikely to return home any time soon.


Yulia Rusanova, her maiden name, was brought up on the edge


of an industrial estate in Kursk, south-west Russia.


With an alcoholic and violent father, she had


By 20, she began to excel as a middle-distance runner,


Her performance improved when her coach gave her


The band drug helped her cut a remarkable three seconds


Once she was on the national team, she was sent to a top sports


scientist and expert in performance enhancing drugs.


But at one race meeting, she came across a person


in the system who wasn't prepared to turn a blind eye.


Vitaly Stepanov was an idealistic young officer at Rusada,


A dirty athlete and a crusader for clean sport.


It was an unlikely combination, but two months later


Somehow, they stuck together, despite frequent rows


There is Rusanova, second in the Russian championships.


As I said, she had a fright before she did indeed


Yulia went from strength to strength, running


the World Championships in South Korea.


But some clean athletes were puzzled by her success.


She's young, she looks very talented, has good


I led the whole way in the semifinal and just at the very end I got


overtook by two girls, one being Yulia.


Of course, I was extremely shocked to see her in front of me.


After the event, she looked very guilty, is the only


word I could think of, and I thought that straightaway.


Eventually, Yulia got a two-year suspension


after irregularities were detected in her biological passport.


I had been writing to Wada since 2010, and it was a little


discouraging to see that they kind of preferred to somewhat stay away


Yulia's ten-page confession to the World Anti-Doping


So she began secretly taping her coaches,


officials and fellow athletes on her mobile phone.


In this recording, her doctor boasts about how his drugs have


After the recordings aired on German TV, the Stepanovs left Russia.


Now living in the US, they have received little support.


The classic sport structure and system doesn't necessarily want


whistle-blowers coming forward because it brings bad


And that's contrary to the brand, and it ultimately hurts the brand.


And so I'm not sure that that's exactly what sport really wanted.


Yulia's whistle-blowing got a cold reception in Russia.


The press attacked her as a rat and a traitor.


Online, some even called for her execution.


Russian history is full of stories of betrayal.


There is a famous one about a schoolboy who informed


on his own father to Stalin's police.


Some are calling Yulia a modern day version,


for selling out her fellow athletes and her country.


She's not a hero because there's nothing brave in it.


The main motive for her, as for any other athlete


who is and was doping, is a financial motive.


In this very laboratory, hundreds of positive samples


The Moscow lab lost its accreditation in April and has been


After a round of sackings at the Russian anti-doping agency,


Those who worked for Rusada in previous years, we don't


have these old people in our company any more.


Wouldn't sorry be a good thing to say?


Actually, I think we should be sorry that everything happened


and that there were hints that people could say that


Yulia hopes to compete at the World Championships


in London next summer, perhaps under a neutral flag.


But given the further allegation in Richard McLaren's report,


will her fellow Russian athletes be there, too?


And if not, does she feel responsible?


Some call Yulia Stepanova the greatest whistle-blower


Whatever the case, the fallout from her revelations will be felt


in Russia and worldwide for some time to come.


Lucy Ash reporting, as part of the BBC'S 100 Women series.


You can see a full length documentary on Yulia Stepanova


and her revelations on 24th and 25th December on BBC World.


We're now joined from Glasgow by the President of Wada,


Good evening. Her story is shocking and you need whistle-blowers like


that but there is a woman who thinks if she goes back to Russia she will


be killed. You heard the contributor from America saying, we do not want


whistle-blowers in one way in sport, so how will you help people like


her? Well, I know of this couple, I have had video conferences with her


husband. He has helped with the establishment of what will become


the Wada whistle-blowing policy. And she has been as warmly welcomed by


the athletic community as anybody could be. The reception of what she


did in Russia, I agree has been pretty terrible. As far as moving


forward with whistle-blowers, on the 1st of January next year we put in


place a brand-new whistle-blowing policy. People will be able to get


at us from our website, and it will be run by our head of


investigations, who was the professional investigator on the


first of the commissions of enquiry, the one which actually found about


all the trouble in Russian athletics, the one that Yulia


Stepanova, I suppose, was responsible for. On that question,


according to achieve sports reporter at the Sunday Times, when she made


those allegations in that German documentary, your organisation


ignored her and hoped she would go away and her allegations would not


get traction. Well, I took on this job in 2014 so I have had to go back


and look at records. I don't think that was the case. It takes quite a


long time to deliver the evidence that anybody needs before you start


an investigation. She has said herself that it was not until 2013


that she began to collect the evidence that anybody would have


required. The other problem we had is that as an organisation we did


not have the legal powers to establish that type of investigation


until the 1st of January 2000 and 15. But that was the date when our


first commission went into work, based very much on her work. So much


doping, from London 2012, right through to Sochi. But in the London


2012 Olympics, Russia got 24 gold, 32 silver, 32 bronze. They were


doping on an industrial scale and were not once detected, even though


you had observers there. If you look at the McLaren report, you will see


a very detailed description of the system put in place to ensure that


exactly that happened. It was doping on an industrial scale and it was


coordinated through the Moscow laboratory and the Deputy Minister


for sport. We knew, when the IOC began to retest the London samples


and were beginning to find evidence of doping, because the technology


was better, that there would be bad news to come. I don't think in any


way we believed it would be as bad as it has turned out to be. Well, in


Rio there were actually doping incidences from something like 52


countries. So we know Russia is not the only culprit. Two questions.


First, how will you get Russia back into the world scene when it is in


such a state? Secondly, what about the other countries? As far as


bringing Russia back into the world scene, that is now, I have to say,


something of a priority. It is going to be very difficult for sport to


have the biggest country in the world noncompliant on a prolonged


basis. It involves a number of things that have to happen in


Russia. The first would be to accept the validity of the reports that


have been produced by Professor McLaren. Secondly, they have to


understand that a proper, well-organised anti-doping


organisation has to be independent, as independent as it can be in any


country. That involves independent people, not just Russian


sportspeople. Vladimir Putin said today this was political


interference in sport on a grand scale. He does not sound ready to


take recommendations. Well, he has taken a number of the last few


months. I understand that the President has said, we have a


problem and we need to fix it. I am encouraged by that. This will not be


an easy process because in someways we are trying to change the culture.


That is just the technical bit. The problem thereafter is to do it in


such a way that the rest of the world believes it and knows they are


behaving appropriately. Next year we have the World Athletics


Championships in London. Can you say they will be clean? Nobody would say


that anything would be guaranteed to be clean, on the evidence of the


amount of doping that goes on. The IAAF are working closely with us,


but it will be very difficult for us to deal with the Russian anti-doping


agency in one way and for track and field athletics to do it in a


different way, so there is a common interest. But every effort will be


made. I think it is a fair point to say that since modern and better


technology has produced a lot of really terrible evidence now,


anybody who believes that will not improve by London 2017 is probably


not thinking straight. Thank you. Just before we go, we wanted to wish


many happy returns to the man who was born Issur Danielovitch


on this day in 1916. He's the last leading man standing


from Hollywood's Golden Age, patriarch of an acting dynasty


and star of films like Paths of Glory, Out of the Past,


the Vikings, and, of course, despite many claims


to the contrary, he was Spartacus. So - Kirk Douglas -


happy hundredth birthday. # I've got a wail of a tale to tell


you, lads # A wail of a tale, and it's all


true, I swear # There was mermaid mini


# I met her in Madagascar. # I hate surprises, myself.


# Blow me down and picked me up, she swapped me for a trout. I'm


Spartacus. I'm Spartacus. I'm Spartacus. I'm Spartacus. Good


evening. The weekend will start with a north- south divide


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