Rupert Murdoch‘s phone-hacking scandal may only be making media ripples here in the States but it is dominating the headlines in Britain.
While Americans know Rupe as the man that owns Fox News, and New Yorkers as the man who owns the New York Post and WSJ, in Britain he is a kingmaker.
On Morning Joe this morning, CNBC’s Simon Hobbs suggested that his political power is Britain is such that the public should regard the outrage being expressed by some members of the British Parliament with some scepticism — all sound, little fury.
Which is not to say Murdoch is taking this lightly. Earlier this week allegations that his paper News of the World hacked into the voicemail of a murdered girl giving her parents hope that she was still alive instantly tipped was had been a celebrity story into dangerous terrain. Now there are accusations that the paper also hacked into dead soldiers voicemails as well as victims of the London subway bombing (which occurred 6 years ago today).
News Corp stocks dropped yesterday and advertisers are fleeing News of the World. Not that this will make much of a dent in Rupe’s holdings — the NYT reports that “revenue from the publishing division of News Corporation accounted for only 17 per cent of its revenue in the last nine months. In that time, cable network programming accounted for 61 per cent, and film, which includes the 20th Century Fox studio, was 20 per cent.”
But it’s serious enough that Murdoch has reportedly called a “war council” in Sun Valley, Idaho, where he was attending the swanky media conference hosted Allan & Co….the same one, it should be noted, that has also drawn the likes of Chris Christie, Mark Zuckerberg and Mayor Bloomberg.
The sense seems to be that Murdoch may shortly be called upon to do something drastic to keep the scandal, and the culmination of previous ones, from doing permanent damage.
Also at stake is the possible reconsideration of his big BSkyB takeover. After much trial and tribulation the purchase was approved last week, just days before the latest hacking scandal came to light. However, it sounds like depending on how bad this gets, that could change.
Ofcom, the British regulator, released a statement Wednesday saying it was “closely monitoring the situation and in particular the investigations by the relevant authorities into the alleged unlawful activities.”
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