Parliament Summons Murdoch

Tags: Rupert Murdoch - Gordon Brown - The Deal

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Rupert Murdoch, his son James, and Rebekah Brooks, head of News International, have received summonses to appear before Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport committee next Tuesday. While their appearances are not mandatory, several analysts suggested that their refusal to appear could only exacerbate their continuing embarrassment over the News of the World hacking scandal. Rupert Murdoch is in London, reportedly taking command of his troops there after suffering his biggest loss ever with the forced closure of his News of the World Sunday tabloid over the weekend. The London Financial Times reported that he is desperately trying to keep alive his bid to take full control of BSkyB, the country's largest commercial broadcaster. Only last week it seemed as if The Deal would be approved by British regulators in a matter of days. Now, it appears that it will undergo additional scrutiny as Murdoch submitted it for approval to the British Competition Commission and withdrew an earlier agreement to sell SkyNews, his British all-news channel. (Several published reports indicated that Murdoch may be preparing to sell off News International, which has been operating at a loss.) "We are still going to be talking about this in 2012, but by then maybe people's attitudes will have changed," a person close to Murdoch told the FT. Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown accused News International, the umbrella group for Murdoch's U.K. news operations, of hiring known violent criminals to gather information illegally. Brown also described how he had received a phone call from Rebekah Brooks, then the editor of The Sun , asking him to confirm a tip that his son had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis -- information that Brown said could not have been obtained legitimately. Brooks later said that the information had been obtained through normal channels and not via phone hacking. Thus far, Murdoch's U.S. operations have not been affected by the turmoil in the U.K. -- but they could be. In 1980s, the FCC yanked the licenses of stations owned by RKO General after it determined that the parent company had engaged in "anticompetitive and possibly illegal" reciprocal trade practices." The commission noted that while "this misconduct was not directly related to RKO's broadcasting activities ... such non-broadcast misconduct called into question the character qualifications of the licensee and its ability to serve the public interest." Meanwhile, Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who owns 7 percent of News Corp (his Kingdom Holding company is News Corp's second-largest shareholder behind the Murdoch family) said Monday that his "confidence in News Corp, in Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch is unshaken completed." He said he also supports the shutting down of News of the World. In an interview with Reuters, he said, "What happened in the scandal is a deviation from what News Corp. wants now, which is full control of the remaining shares [of BSkyB]

12/07/2011


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