Murdoch Now Focus of Controversy Following News of the World Closing

By Ed Silverstein July 11, 2011

Media baron Rupert Murdoch was in London on Monday trying to salvage his proposed bid to take over full control of BSkyB, the British satellite broadcaster. The deal is embroiled in controversy – with strong criticism targeted at Murdoch.

His News of the World newspaper was closed on Sunday in the wake of an embarrassing phone-hacking scandal. There is mounting pressure on the British government to block the deal for BSkyB given the phone-hacking scandal.

The British tabloid called it quits after 168 years of publication. It had 7.5 million readers.

The News of the World hacked into the mobile phones of celebrities, crime victims, politicians and the relatives of Britain’s war dead, TechZone360 said.

Some 4,000 people were the targets of alleged phone hacking by investigators and News of the World reporters, TechZone360 added.

U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nicholas Clegg asked Murdoch to “Do the decent and sensible thing, and reconsider, think again, about your bid for BSkyB,” according to a story in The Telegraph. “Look how the country has reacted with revulsion to the revelations.” 

The Telegraph also raised the possibility of the forced sale of Murdoch’s News Corp’s 39 percent shareholding in BSkyB.

News Corp also owns the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times – in London. In the United States, he owns Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post.

The deal was further in doubt after Jeremy Hunt, the U.K. culture minister, wrote to Britain’s media regulator, known as Ofcom, to see if the bid should be reviewed even further by government regulators because of competition concerns.

Doubts over the deal led to BSkyB shares falling 7 percent in heavy London trading, The Telegraph said.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said he is launching two public inquiries in response to incidents at News of the World.

One of the investigations is to be led by a judge. It will review “phone hacking by newspapers and possible corruption involving police officers taking cash for information,” The Telegraph reports. The second investigation will look at questions of press regulation, The Telegraph adds.

Two former News of the World editors, Andy Coulson and Clive Goodman, as well as an unnamed 63-year-old man, were recently arrested and questioned by detectives, according to The Telegraph.

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Ed Silverstein is a TechZone360 contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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