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Elisabeth Murdoch takes issue with brother James during MacTaggart lecture

Elisabeth Murdoch used the platform provided by the MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival to launch a bold bid to rehabilitate her family's reputation.

Murdoch cast her brother James in the role of sacrificial lamb by repudiating the best-remembered part of the speech he delivered on the same stage in 2009 while simultaneously lionising the words of her father Rupert's contribution to the TV Festival a quarter of a century ago.

Anyone who imagined Murdoch would avoid speaking about the controversy that has blown up in the faces of her father and her younger brother will have been taken aback by her willingness to confront it head on. She baldly stated that her brother James was wrong to claim that "profit is the only reliable and perpetual guarantor of independence", saying he'd failed to recognise or mention that "profit without purpose is a recipe for disaster".

Later, in an hour-long speech delivered to a packed audience at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Murdoch spoke of the need "to build communities" to safeguard the values we hold dear and, in a second barbed reference to her brother's provocative speech, said that "believing in technology without the need for real community was as dangerous as trusting in profit as the single guarantor of positive outcomes".

She deliberately contrasted her brother's cold libertarian analysis with her father's conviction that "the freeing of broadcasting in this country is very much part of a democratic revolution". According to Elisabeth Murdoch, this demonstrated her "dad had the vision, the will and the sense of purpose to challenge the old world order on behalf of the people".

Earlier in her lecture, she had made jokes about her family's infamy, suggesting that writing her speech had provided a welcome break from the woes visited upon the Murdochs by the errant behaviour of News International journalists and executives. One way or another her father and her brother were constant companions as she spoke.

Ostensibly, Murdoch had been invited to give the MacTaggart Lecture because of Shine - the production company she co-founded in 2001. During a potted account of her working life she acknowledged the assistance given to her by her illustrious moniker and the direct assistance provided by father Rupert when it came to underwriting bank loans but made it clear that she believes that she owes her ability to run a global company more to her acumen than to her genealogy.

Murdoch claims that when she sold Shine to News Corp "it was the very last place" she wanted to go but the move gained her a place on the News Corp board and despite her reservations about returning to the family fold she felt it "was the best strategic home for us".

Elisabeth Murdoch seems intent on repairing some of the relationships damaged by her family over the years. Former BBC executives Greg Dyke and Mark Thompson were singled out for praise during her speech - the latter for his "vision and leadership" - and she describes herself as "a current supporter of the BBC's universal licence fee". Given her family's history of suggesting that the venerable institution's dominance is an obstacle to competition, this appears to represent some kind of truce between the Murdochs and the BBC.

Murdoch also used her speech to draw attention to the opportunities provided by online programme making and warned those who imagine that YouTube is little more than a repository for amusing clips of cats and dogs that they're guilty of flagrant complacency. She likened the pioneers making content for YouTube to the founders of MTV and she urged the audience to pay attention to the DIY generation - under 25s who've responded to the dearth of programming they like by making their own. These developments are an opportunity rather than a threat as long as companies respond quickly and learn fast.

Although the shadow of Rupert Murdoch loomed large during his daughter's speech, the manner in which she carefully distanced herself from her brother James by rubbishing his reverence for profit together with her declared support for the BBC suggest that Matthew Freud, her PR supremo husband had more influence on her speech than any of the Murdoch clan.

There appeared to be a purpose and a meaning to each individual she mentioned from Nelson Mandela to Alan Bennett. This was especially apparent when she quoted Dennis Potter - the writer who famously named his cancerous tumour Rupert after Elisabeth Murdoch's father.

The effect of these choices felt very measured and with free public relations advice at her disposal, it wouldn't be surprising if she opted to take advantage of it. After all, Freud knows a thing or two about growing up with a famous name and if he's familiar with his great-grandfather's teachings then he also knows about the rivalry between siblings for their father's attention.

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