Rupert Murdoch`s woes are far from over

Last Updated: Friday, April 27, 2012 - 23:59

London: After a two-day gruelling at the Leveson Inquiry, Rupert Murdoch and his media empire in Britain are likely to come in for critical mention when a key parliamentary committee releases its report on the phone-hacking controversy on Tuesday.

Murdoch, 81, used candour and selective interpretation of events at the inquiry to claim victim status over the `cover-up` at the defunct News of the World, but was clearly on the back-foot given the plethora of inquiries into his media empire.

The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, which heard evidence from Murdoch and his son James last year, will release its report on the phone-hacking issue on Tuesday.

Besides, regulator Ofcom had intensified its inquiry on the issue of whether BSkyB is a `fit and proper` organisation to hold a broadcasting licence in view of the alleged shortcomings in corporate governance within his company as evident in the phone-hacking issue.

As mentioned in his witness statement, Murdoch`s operations in Britain amount to only 8 per cent of New Corporation`s global revenues, but the potential of reputational damage here may spill over and damage his commercial interests abroad, particularly in the US.

Ofcom has asked News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun and the News of the World, to provide it with a series of documents relating to the civil litigation in which the media company is involved.

Ofcom has been gathering evidence since last summer, when it said it would consider whether phone-hacking allegations at the NoW were relevant to whether News Corp would be a fit and proper owner of the satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

A spokesman said: "Ofcom is gathering evidence which may assist it in assessing whether BSkyB is and remains fit and proper to continue to hold its broadcast licences.

As part of this ongoing assessment, Ofcom has contacted News Group Newspapers requesting documents which it understands are held by the company and which may be relevant to this assessment. BSkyB is party to this correspondence".
He added: "The documents Ofcom is seeking relate to the civil litigation cases.

Ofcom is seeking to obtain documents that were ordered to be disclosed in the civil litigation between numerous complainants and News Group Newspapers".
The evidence by James Murdoch on Tuesday continued to cause ripples in the corridors of power with calls for an independent inquiry into Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt`s alleged proximity to the Murdochs at the time of the BSkyB takeover bid.

Hunt refused to resign, but agreed to disclose all his private correspondence over the takeover bid to the Leveson Inquiry.

These include any "relevant" emails and text messages to
News Corporation executives and his former special adviser Adam Smith, who resigned this week.

After former editor of The Sunday Times, Harold Evans, ridiculed Murdoch`s claims before the inquiry, Tom Crone, former legal manager of the News of the World, branded Murdoch`s allegations that he was responsible for covering up phone hacking by the paper`s journalists a "shameful lie".

The Murdochs testimony before the Leveson Inquiry evoked much comment in the news media today.

Calling Rupert Murdoch the `Wizard of Oz`, The Guardian said in an editorial today: "For the past three years the average reader of the Guardian apparently had a much more complete understanding of what was going on within a significant division of News Corp than its own chairman".

Rupert Murdoch`s testimony to the Leveson inquiry listed all the things he didn`t know until recently".

Claiming that the "trail leads to Downing Street", columnist Ian Katz wrote: "Whatever the fate of the unlovable Mr Hunt, this omni-scandal is moving inexorably towards 10 Downing Street".

PTI



First Published: Friday, April 27, 2012 - 23:59

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