The Church of England is using its position as an investor in News Corp to apply pressure to Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
The church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) has written to News Corp saying the closure of the News of the World is ‘not a sufficient response’ to the phone hacking scandal that brought about the newspaper’s demise.
In its letter, the EIAG calls on Rupert Murdoch to do whatever it takes to ‘instill investor confidence in the ethical and governance standards of News Corporation’.
‘We cannot imagine circumstances in which we would be satisfied with any outcome that does not hold senior executives to account at News Corporation for the gross failures of management at the News of the World,’ the letter continues.
According to the church, it holds 344,586 A shares in News Corp, worth $6 mn based on last Thursday’s market price.
James Murdoch, chairman of News International, the UK publishing arm of News Corp, last week defended Rebekah Brooks, the News International CEO who was editor at the News of the World when some of the phone hacking took place.
He said he is satisfied that the standard of Brook’s ethics throughout her career were ‘very good’.
The Church of England has clashed with Rupert Murdoch’s media interests in the past.
Last November, it called on the UK’s media regulator to block a bid by News Corp to take full control of the British satellite television provider BSkyB, saying the takeover would concentrate too much media control with one company.
In 1995, the church sold its shares in BSkyB following the decision by the company to launch the Playboy TV channel.
[Article by Tim Human, IR magazine]
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