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The former prime minister, appearing at the Leveson Inquiry, admitted that his relationship with News International while he was in office became too close.
But Mr Blair denied that it was "cosy" and stressed that he felt a "close interaction" between politicians and the media was essential to a Government's success.
He insisted that he had only courted the press and had such a robust communications operation at Number 10 because he feared his message would be blocked.
"There was no deal on issues to do with the media, with Rupert Murdoch or with anyone else either express or implied and to be fair he never sought such a thing..." he said.
"When it came to the specific issues in relation to the Murdoch media group, we more often decided against them than in favour of them."
Mr Blair said he made a conscious decision not to act against the parts of the press that had huge influence and were used as "instruments of political power" because of the potential consequences.
"If you're a political leader and you've got very powerful media groups and you fall out with one of those groups, the consequences is such that you... are effectively blocked from getting across your message," he said at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
"I'm being open about the fact that frankly I decided as a political leader, and this was a strategic decision, that I was going to manage that and not confront it."
The former leader also denied that his controversial spin operation, headed by Alaistair Campbell, had been "malleable with the truth" which had turned the media "toxic".
Looking tanned and relaxed, Mr Blair told the inquiry: "We were not the first and only government to want to put the best possible gloss on what you are doing....
"That is a completely different thing from saying that you go out to say things that are completely untrue, that you bully and harass journalists and so on.
"I read a lot of those things that we are supposed to have done and I actually dispute that we did those things very strongly."
Mr Blair said he had wanted a much stronger operation to combat the press because he remembered the "onslaught" launched against Labour before the 1992 election.
He described The Sun and The Daily Mail as the most powerful newspapers in Britain and insisted that it had been important to try and deal with them.
"Once they are against you that's it. It's full frontal, day in, day out, basically a lifetime commitment," he said, adding: "I think you certainly do fear the power being directed at you."
However, he did say: "I didn't feel under pressure in relation to commercial interests from the Murdoch people or anyone else. The pressure for me was more political. We decided more stuff against the Murdoch interest in favour of it."
Earlier, the former leader had arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice smiling and with his jacket slung over his shoulder.
His appearance comes a month after Rupert Murdoch gave evidence and denied there was ever an agreement between the pair.
The media boss told the inquiry: "I, in 10 years of his power, never asked Mr Blair for anything. Nor indeed did I receive any favours."
New Labour actively chased the support of the Murdoch empire and the ex-PM met Mr Murdoch around 40 times.
He enjoyed a decade of support from the tycoon's UK newspaper titles and also became close to him personally, to the extent that he became godfather to his daughter Grace.
Lance Price, who was part of Tony Blair's Downing Street communications team told Sky News: "The truth of the matter is that the Murdoch empire did have a closer relationship with Number 10 than the other organisations did.
"It was a two-way process, they both could see that there were benefits to them from it and it was a relationship that from both sides had its benefits and its downsides."
Mr Blair's testimony marks the beginning of a week of evidence from political heavyweights.
On Tuesday, Education Secretary Michael Gove and Home Secrerary Theresa May will appear followed by Business Secretary Vince Cable on Wednesday.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is fighting for his job after revelations about his department's communication with News Corp about its bid to takeover BSkyB, appears on Thursday.