Murdoch's U.s. Tv Licenses Could Be Threatened

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By shutting down his lucrative News of the World tabloid in the U.K., Rupert Murdoch may have been looking to protect his other worldwide media properties, some analysts observed today (Friday). "While many New York media figures were stunned by the swift and calculating decision to close the News of the World, the decision is totally understandable in the context of his worldwide business," wrote Martin Dunn, a former editor of the New York Daily News , in an op-ed column appearing in today's Guardian newspaper. Dunn added that Murdoch "can legitimately say that he runs a media company that does not tolerate the dreadful excesses exhibited by the News of the World . He can put up his hand and profess to have carried out the ultimate sanction as the scandal grew." Murdoch may well have to do just that if higher-ups in the News Corp organization, including his son James, are criminally implicated in the scandal. Under FCC rules, operators of broadcast stations are required to pass a "character" test and as recently as 1985 the commission denied license renewals to RKO General stations in the U.S. after executives of the parent company were accused of engaging in anti-competitive practices and other wrongdoing. Murdoch's action in shutting down News of the World may have short-circuited a challenge to his broadcast licenses in the U.S. for now, but it's not altogether certain that it will be able to continue to do so if formal criminal charges are eventually brought against top News Corp executives in relation to the phone-hacking scandal.



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