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Richard Branson

24 January 07 17:32 GMT

We asked British entrepreneur Richard Branson for his Take Of The Week.

" Earlier this week, I stated -- admittedly from a slightly biased position -- that I felt that Rupert Murdoch and his empire posed a potential threat to democracy.

On reflection, I still believe it. Rupert Murdoch already controls a large chunk of the media; he controls a large chunk of television and he now wants to have massive influence over ITV.

Any media mogul who seeks the kind of power that Murdoch seeks in the UK should, I believe, be stopped.

Big oil companies and big press barons

But let's just take Murdoch as one example.

In the US, he owns Fox Television. During the Gore/Bush presidential election battle, a lot of people felt that it was Fox which actually won the election for Bush.

In Britain, we have something approaching consensus politics. We have, for example, Blair and Cameron agreeing about the horrendous threat of global warming.

Over the Atlantic, you have a Bush administration that does not believe that global warming exists -- supported, by the way, by big oil companies and big press barons.

What I fear is that some of the worst aspects of America could be imported into Britain, particularly if we have one press baron that controls the bulk of British media.

It's not for me to beat Murdoch

This evening, a taxi driver said to me: "If you can't beat Murdoch, nobody can. What chance do us guys in the street have?"

The truth is that it's not for me to beat Murdoch; it's for the politicians.

The problem is that politicians are scared of Murdoch. They believe that he can win them an election or lose them an election, and so what we need is consensus here too.

We need the leaders of the three parties to get together and to decide that, for the sake of democracy, a line should be drawn in the sand.

"

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