Rupert Murdoch has been urged to drop his £7.8 billion (8.8 billion euros) takeover bid for British Sky Broadcasting as the fallout of the tabloid phone hacking scandal continues to bring new allegations to light. The latest claims suggest that his newspaper editors may have approved paying a police officer in charge of the UK royal family’s security.
New evidence has been found, according to the BBC, that shows the News Of The World Sunday tabloid paid £1,000 (1,132 euros) to obtain a phone book with contact details of members of the royal family. E-mails were found in 2007 that showed the security of the royal family was breached, but News International only informed the police this June.
Meanwhile, the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who met with the family of a murdered schoolgirl whose phone was hacked when she was missing in 2002, addressed Murdoch directly, saying:
“I would simply say to him, ‘look how people feel about this, look how the country has reacted with revulsion to the revelations’. Do the decent and sensible thing, and reconsider, think again, about your bid for BSkyB.”
Opposition leader Ed Miliband echoed Clegg’s message. “The first thing he should do is to drop the bid,” he said.
News Corporation Fact Box
News Corp. is the second-largest media conglomorate in the world (behind the Walt Disney Company). It owns media all over the world including:
- The Australian newspaper
- GQ Australia magazine
- Vogue Australia magazine
- Fox Studios Australia
- Fox media corporation available to over 96% of Americans.
- Fox News
- New York Post
- Wall Street Journal
- 20th Centrury Fox
- The Times newspaper
- The Sunday Times newspaper
- The Sun newspaper
- News of the World newspaper
- It also owns 39.1% of TV group BSkyB, the UK’s biggest pay-TV broadcaster. It is currently attempting to buy the remaining 60.1%
- Sky News and Sky News international
- Sky Sports
The News of the World, which published its last edition July 9 after being in print for 168 years, has been the focus of phone hacking allegations for the past four years. The controversy intensified recently after it became clear that not only celebrities, but also families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan have been targets of phone hacking. The relatives of the victims of the July 2005 London bombings also had their phones intercepted, it is alleged.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to set up a public inquiry into the scandal.
Cameron has been criticised for employing ex-NOTW editor Andy Coulson as his communications director, a post that Coulson had to resign from over mounting pressure whether he had any knowledge of phone hacking during his time as editor. Coulson was arrested and questioned by police last week.
Today, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt wrote to the media regulator OfCom, asking if it stood by a previous recommendation that News Corp was a “fit and proper” bidder. Murdoch’s company already has a 39 percent stake in BSkyB, but is trying to gain full control of the broadcaster as profit from newspaper advertising dwindles.
The U.S. Department of Justice may launch an investigation into payments to police by News Corp, the Daily Telegraph reported. The company may be liable for fines of about $100 million (113 million euros).
BSkyB stocks dropped 12 percent last week, according to Bloomberg News, leading the company’s market value to slump by almost £1.1 billion (1.24 billion euros). New York-based News Corp fell 7.3 percent last week in Nasdaq, Bloomberg reported.
The last edition of the NOTW sold more than 4 million copies. The paper included a coupon inside that entitled the senders to receive a free copy of the print of the first edition of the paper. The front page had only one headline reading “Thank you & Goodbye.”
By Ali Sheikholeslami