- July 14th, 2011
- Posted by 7thmin
Â Torrid times in London, 13.7.11, as the Mother of Parliaments began to move on an errant element of the Fourth Estate.
The Murdoch media organisation, News Corporation, withdrew its bid to buy out the balance of the pay television network, BSkyB.
PARLIAMENT TAKING ACTION
This dramatic move came a few hours before the scheduled start of a House of Commons debate on the bid.
MPs were demonstrating uncommon bi-partisan zeal in lining up to condemn the company over the phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed it â€“ causing it already to suddenly close down its Sunday tabloid newspaper, The News of the World.
See EUAustralia Online, â€œNews of the World affairâ€, 8.7.11.
FIT AND PROPER?
At issue in the forthcoming debate: Was News International, the United Kingdom arm of the organisation, â€œfit and properâ€ to hold a licence for the entirety of the satellite-based network?
It currently holds a controlling interest in it, 39.1%; profit has been running at one billion pounds (A$1.49-billion; xe.com, 14.7.11) a year; expansion would pave the way for still further growth, a good corporate plan for a media organisation looking to survive, and survive well in the treacherous world of new media.
The bid to expand was “too difficult under present circumstances”, it said.
Its immediate problem now is survival in the treacherous world of democratic politics, thanks to its own indulgences in the treacherous world of British tabloid journalism.
Developments of this week:
The News of the World, and other publications in the News International stable, were being accused of employing computer specialists to get into the voice mail of towards 3000 citizens.
Those people would include missing or dead children, celebrities, victims of terrorist attacks, and families of soldiers killed in war.
Further allegations are that reporters paid police for stories or other assistance, and that the extent of the covert reporting work was covered up.
Already one journalist has been gaoled last year; investigators were told it was an isolated case; details on many fresh cases recently came to light.
INVESTIGATIONS UNDER WAY
Three official investigations have now started, together with a large police operation well under way â€“ Inspectors out calling on the named, possible victims.
John Wittingdale, Chairman of the parliamentary Select Committee on Culture and Media, has said his committee will inquire whether it had been misled when it asked about that earlier case.
He has called the News Corporation principals, Rupert Murdoch (picture) and his son James Murdoch, to appear before the committee, along with the head of the UK operation, Rebekah Brooks.
He says Ms Brooks might be compelled if she refuses to attend, but the father and son can avoid it if they want because they are not British citizens.
The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has convened a judicial inquiry into the News of the World affair, and a broad-based inquiry into the regulation of mass media, provoked by issues it has raised â€“ proclaiming it would balance â€œfreedomâ€ on one hand with â€œethical standardsâ€ on the other.
SHOCKS AND JOLTS
Mr Cameron has problems himself with the turn of events, the Opposition saying that he ignored clear warnings about a connection between the hacking affair and his former media advisor, and former News of the World editor, Andy Coulson.
The day may have been short of actual â€œshocking scenesâ€ at the parliament, but it saw Members and others shaking the fear of a drubbing in the tabloids, and bringing out some serious grievances.
The former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, spoke of the use of â€œcommon criminalsâ€ to violate the family privacy of people inÂ public life â€“ in his case a front-page disclosure of details about the serious illness of his child.
â€œNOTHING TO DO WITH USâ€ â€“ NEWS LTD. IN OZ
In Australia, birthplace of Rupert Murdoch and his media empire, the company was taking pre-emptive action.
The national branch, News Limited, said it would declare all of its expenditure to show it had not done any phone tapping.