Is Rupert Murdoch Losing His Hold on the Media?
The Leveson Inquiry into media ethics has so far brought Rupert Murdoch, his “chief lientenant” former New of the World editor and former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt — about whom a vote is to be forced by Labor in Commons over his apparently very cozy interactions with James Murdoch in News Corporation’s aborted attempt to take over British network company BSkyB Media — and numerous others to the witness stand. The revelations have been “glimpses of the power and petty gangsterism of the tabloid press,” writes John PIlger in the News Statesman.
But as a whole, “bemusement” at the revelations is sinking into “boredom,” writes Pilger:
Leveson has asked nothing about how the respectable media complemented the Murdoch press in systematically promoting corrupt, mendacious, often violent political power whose crimes make phone-hacking barely a misdemeanour. The Leveson inquiry is a club matter in which a member has caused such extraordinary public embarrassment, he must be blackballed, so that nothing changes.
While the interrogation of Rupert Murdoch was limited to “verbal marshmallows” that were promptly “spat out,” a year of revelations about how extensive phone hacking may be — has been — is taking some sort of toll on his media empire.
Over 500 More Phone Hacking Claims
On Friday, a British high court was told that News International could face up to 520 civil claims for damages from alleged victims of hacking by NoW staff. 49 individuals including Cherie Blair and Professor John Tulloch, who was just some three feet away from Mohammad Sidique Khan when he set off explosives in a backpack in the 7/7 bombings, have submitted claims. In a further testament to how technology has been entwined in the scandal, Mr Justice Vos ordered that NI “preserve” the company iPhones of two senior executives and the emails. As the Guardian comments, the order about the iPhones further suggests that phone hacking was more widely practiced at NI than by “rogue reporters” as “iPhones were not available in the UK until November 2007, nine months after News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for phone hacking.”
Declining Sales For The Sun on Sunday
Sales of Murdoch’s new tabloid The Sun have been declining. A Sunday edition of The Sun had been created by Murdoch last year, to replace the NoW, which he closed down last July after allegations of the extent of phone hacking emerged:
Sales of the Sunday edition have fallen 28 percent, from 3.2 million copies sold in the weeks after it first hit the stands in February, to 2.3 million in April, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. The News of the World sold 2.7 million copies (or one copy for every 23 people in Britain), in July, when Mr. Murdoch closed the tabloid.
Analysts predict that The Sun’s sales will drop further to about two million copies in part due to declining newspaper sales overall in the UK. According to the New York Times, “newsroom morale at The Sun has sagged” as News Corp.’s internal management and standards committee carries on an investigation of unethical practices at the paper.
The drop in readership at The Sun does not necessarily affect News Corp.’s profits; the Sunday edition of the paper is printed on the presses left idle after the abrupt closing of the NoW. But perhaps, slowly and quietly, declining readership is a symptom of Murdoch’s — News Corp.’s? — waning hold on the news. This was the company that bought MySpace and sold it for a $545 million loss.
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