Sunday, July 17, 2011

The News Corp. Hacking Scandal Grows Out of Murdoch's Control

Rupert Murdoch attempted to engage in damage control on Friday, even as two of his top corporate allies resigned on Friday, Les Hinton and Rebekah Brooks. This morning, the other shoe dropped on Brooks, as she was arrested in connection with the British hacking scandal.

No amount of apologies and promises of compensation will make good on the fact that Murdoch's company condoned all manner of illegal activities in the United Kingdom over a period of years.

All the years of shady behavior, criminal violations, and unethical behavior is coming home to roost and Murdoch's media empire is crumbling all around him.

British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband is calling for an overhaul of British media ownership rules, essentially breaking up News Corp's hold on media outlets.
In a fresh salvo against Mr Murdoch's News Corp, the Labour leader said he wanted to forge a cross-party agreement on plans that would reduce the media mogul's UK market share.

In an interview with The Observer, he said: ''I think he has too much power over British public life.''

The News Corp empire has been diminished with the closure of the News of the World over the phone hacking scandal, but it still owns The Sun, The Times, The Sunday Times and 39 per cent of BSkyB.

Having already called successfully for the resignation of Rebekah Brooks, the News International chief executive, Mr Miliband said the Government now needed to look at media ownership rules.

He said: ''I think that we've got to look at the situation whereby one person can own more than 20 per cent of the newspaper market, the Sky platform and Sky News.
The scandal is also likely to claim individuals within Scotland Yard, and the all too cozy relationship between the police force and the media outlets has turned into efforts to control the damage. Heads should roll within the police force:
Inside was a treasure-trove of evidence: 11,000 pages of handwritten notes listing nearly 4,000 celebrities, politicians, sports stars, police officials and crime victims whose phones may have been hacked by The News of the World, a now defunct British tabloid newspaper.

Yet from August 2006, when the items were seized, until the autumn of 2010, no one at the Metropolitan Police Service, commonly referred to as Scotland Yard, bothered to sort through all the material and catalog every page, said former and current senior police officials.

During that same time, senior Scotland Yard officials assured Parliament, judges, lawyers, potential hacking victims, the news media and the public that there was no evidence of widespread hacking by the tabloid. They steadfastly maintained that their original inquiry, which led to the conviction of one reporter and one private investigator, had put an end to what they called an isolated incident.

After the past week, that assertion has been reduced to tatters, torn apart by a spectacular avalanche of contradictory evidence, admissions by News International executives that hacking was more widespread, and a reversal by police officials who now admit to mishandling the case.

Murdoch is likely to be grilled by British parliamentarians on Tuesday, and some of the luster and fear of crossing him has faded in the UK.

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