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Entries in News of the World (8)

Wednesday
Apr252012

Murdoch Denies Influencing Politicians

WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Rupert Murdoch appeared before a British inquiry about press standards Wednesday, as the parliamentary committee turned its attention to his political connections rather than the phone-hacking scandal that has roiled the company.

Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corp., said he wanted to "put certain myths to bed," like that he used his newspapers for business motives or influenced political leaders during social meetings.

Commission Chair Lord Justice Brian Leveson and the commission counsel have questioned whether the Murdochs have been too close to British Prime Minister Cameron and Culture Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt.

News Corp. owns many of Britain's largest newspapers and about 8 percent of the company's revenues come from the U.K. Murdoch said News Corp.'s total annual revenue is about $34 billion. News Corp. owns Fox News Channel, The Wall Street Journal, and publisher HarperCollins, among other assets.

The Leveson inquiry has heard from more than 100 witnesses since evidence hearings began in November, the Guardian reported.

"I welcomed the opportunity because I wanted to put certain myths to bed," Murdoch said about the inquiry.

Lead Counsel Robert Jay of the Queen's Council grilled Murdoch about his opinions on, or interactions with, the last five prime ministers, starting with Margaret Thatcher.

"I've never asked a prime minister for anything," Murdoch told the inquiry, explaining that he prefers to talk about current national or global issues and not his business interests.

"Let me be quite honest, Mr. Jay," Murdoch said. "I enjoy meeting -- let's call them our leaders. Some impress me more than others. And I meet them around the world. And I could tell you one or two who particularly impressed me."

When Jay asked if the democratic process is distorted by his newspapers' public endorsements and support of politicians, Murdoch said "the perception certainly irritates me, because I think it's a myth."

A day earlier, James Murdoch said he told Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, on Sept. 10, 2009 that The Sun newspaper, owned by News Corp., would endorse his party's election ambitions. James Murdoch denied the accusation that the endorsement helped get approval by Cameron's party for the BSkyB bid.

"I would never have made that kind of a crass calculation," James Murdoch said. "It just wouldn't occur to me."

James Murdoch explained interactions between News Corp.'s lobbyist and Hunt, who has been under pressure to explain his relationship with the firm as it tried to purchase British broadcasting company BSkyB.

On Tuesday, for the first time James Murdoch admitted speaking with Cameron during controversial efforts to buy control of BSkyB. He said he spoke with Cameron at a Christmas dinner in 2010 at the home of former editor of News of the World Rebekah Brooks, after the Tory leader had been elected prime minister. But James Murdoch said it was "a tiny side conversation ahead of a dinner."

"It wasn't really a discussion, if you will," James Murdoch said.

News Corp. has also been criticized over allegations of impropriety at its other newspapers.

In February 2012, five employees of British newspaper The Sun were arrested for allegedly making payments to public officials. Four former and current Sun journalists were held in January, the BBC reported.

The issue of phone hacking comprised only minutes of the four-hour-long hearing on Wednesday. The elder Murdoch condemned the practice again, saying, "I don't believe in using hacking."

"I don't believe in using private detectives or whatever," Rupert Murdoch said. "I think that's just a lazy way of reporters not doing their job, but I think it is fair, when people are held up as great, or had themselves held up as iconic figures or great actors, that they be looked at."

According to Hugh Tomlinson of the Queen's Council, the now-defunct News of the World allegedly hacked the phones of 4,791 people, from stars to crime victims, to get juicy stories -- all with the encouragement of top editors at the paper and aided by some in the police force.

Rupert Murdoch made a rare apology in British newspapers last year at a parliamentary hearing. The Murdochs appeared before a parliamentary committee last year for the first time, during which the elder Murdoch was attacked with a shaving cream pie.

The Murdoch name has been synonymous with News Corp. even before it was incorporated in 1979. Rupert Murdoch, the only son of Sir Keith Murdoch, took over his father's newspaper publishing business, News Limited, after the elder Murdoch passed away in 1952.

The Oxford-educated media mogul took over his father's newspaper business, News Limited, in his native Australia when he was 22, according to the BBC. Reportedly in good health since being diagnosed with "low grade" prostate cancer in 2000, he has formerly reportedly insisted that his eventual successor have the Murdoch name.

Murdoch published a full-page apology in British newspapers last year about alleged phone-hacking by journalists at his tabloid, the News of the World.

The 81-year-old Murdoch has six children, three of whom are directly involved in his media empire. Murdoch married Wendi Deng, 43, his third wife, in 1999. They have two young daughters, Grace and Chloe.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct212011

News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch to Face Shareholders

WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch may be taking some heat from shareholders on Friday when they get together for the company's annual shareholders meeting in Los Angeles.

Criticism is expected over the phone hacking scandal in Britain that forced News Corp. to close its best selling tabloid, The News of the World.  It is alleged that the newspaper hacked the phones of more than 4,000 politicians, crime victims and celebrities in an effort to get juicy stories.

During Friday's meeting, shareholders will also have the chance to vote on the company’s board members, including Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep022011

News Corp.'s James Murdoch Turns Down $6 Million Bonus

WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- James Murdoch, News Corp. deputy COO and son of mogul Rupert Murdoch, Friday declined a $6 million bonus awarded to him, according to The Guardian.

News Corp.'s annual financial statement to shareholders stated the younger Murdoch and his father received hefty cash bonuses raising their 2010 take home pays by 74 percent and 47 percent, respectively.  Rupert Murdoch, News Corp. chairman and chief executive received a $12.5 million bonus, according to the financial documents.

James issued a statement Friday, in which he declined the bonus due to "current controversy," and stated he might consider whether to accept a bonus at a later time.

"In light of the current controversy surrounding News of the World, I have declined the bonus that the company chose to award to me.  While the financial and operating performance metrics on which the bonus decision was based are not associated with this matter, I feel that declining the bonus is the right thing to do," the statement read.  "I will consult with the Compensation Committee in the future about whether any bonus may be appropriate at a later date."

James Murdoch will likely still take home a $11.9 million salary for the year despite News Corp.'s failed attempt to acquire BSkyB, according to The Hollywood Reporter.  The deal fell through in the wake of the News of the World hacking controversy.

On Friday the number of people arrested in connection to the phone-hacking scandal rose to 15, The Guardian reports.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul222011

Consumers Make Cellphone Hacking Easy

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The phone hacking scandal that led to the demise of News of the World and put News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch in the hot seat highlights just how easy it is for predators to break into cellphones.

Your phone can be hacked two ways: "hacking into your cellphone as you're on the phone or hacking into your voicemail," says Mark Rasch, director of cybersecurity and privacy consulting at Computer Sciences Corp.

The first method -- breaking into your phone while you're talking on it -- is difficult, says Rasch.  A hacker would need to hack into your cellphone provider or corrupt an employee who works for the company to listen in on a conversation.

The second method -- breaking into your voicemail -- is not so tough.  It involves installing a program that would allow the hacker to capture and intercept phone calls.

"It is very easy to do, and that's typically because voicemail is secured with a short four digit number.  It can be hacked, spoofed, guessed and social engineered," says Rasch.

What makes it so easy?  Blame yourself.  Most people choose simplistic passwords that are easy for hackers to guess.

"The most common pass code is the last four digits of your phone number," says Rasch.

"People want something easy to remember and easy to type at 75 miles per hour with a cup of coffee in the hand and the cellphone in the other," says Rasch. "They'll pick the same pin number for ATM, cellphone and a dozen other things.  It's just human nature."

To avoid these pitfalls, some say passwords should be automated or randomly selected.

"You shouldn't be able to pick your password or pass code," says Daniel Amitay, an iPhone developer.  "It should be randomized.  The problem with pass codes and passwords is people pick them."

All eyes have been trained on News Corp. in recent weeks, following allegations that the now-defunct News of the World hacked the phones of more than 4,000 politicians, crime victims and celebrities.

But at the center of the firestorm was Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old murder victim whose cell phone was hacked by journalists on the hunt for a big scoop.  When the teenager disappeared in early 2002, reporters allegedly listened to the dead girl's voicemail and deleted messages on the system, tainting the investigation and creating false hope among the victim's family members that she might still be alive.

While it's unclear exactly how the reporters gained access to Milly Dowler's voicemail, one lesson emerges: it wasn't too hard.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul192011

Murdoch Scandal: Feds to Investigate Extent of Hacking, Bribes

File photo. Chairman of News Corporation Rupert Murdoch with Former Chief Executive of News International Rebekah Brooks in London. MAX NASH/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department is preparing to launch a preliminary investigation into whether News of the World officials engaged in a systemic conspiracy to pay bribes to British police, ABC News has learned.

If that can be established, department officials will have to determine whether News Corp., the parent company of News of the World, violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and whether charges should be brought against the company.

The revelation suggests that the Justice Department's look at News Corp. will reach beyond allegations that News of the World employees hacked the phones of 9/11 victims and their families, which is being investigated by the New York field division of the FBI.

Critical questions involve how many British police officials were involved, how much money was allegedly paid out by News Corp. to bribe them and whether it was a widespread pattern and corporate practice.

Department officials plan to seek the cooperation of British authorities immediately to see what Scotland Yard has turned up.

The Justice Department has brought bribery charges against major corporations before under the FCPA. But those cases have typically involved bribes on a massive scale.

Under the FCPA, federal prosecutors do not have to prove that illegal activity occurred within the United States, but only that a company that is publicly traded in the United States engaged in broad crimes overseas.

The planned Justice Department inquiry comes after a number congressional leaders demanded it review whether News Corp. violated the FCPA. Department officials are also reviewing whether the allegations of widespread hacking -- if proven -- constitute a violation of the law.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul132011

Dem. Senators Call for US Probe of Allegations against News Corp.

WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., called Wednesday for a probe of the wiretapping allegations against News Corp. in the phone hacking scandal.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro, the two Senators say that it is important to find out if any U.S. citizens were “victimized.”

“The reported allegations against News Corporation are very serious, indicate a pattern of illegal activity, and involve thousands of potential victims,” the letter states. “It is important to ensure that no United States laws were broken and no United States citizens were victimized.”

The Senators also reference the allegations that News Corp. employees may have illegal accessed the phone records of victims the September 11th attacks.

The full text of the Senators’ letter is below:

Dear Attorney General Holder and Chairman Schapiro:

We write to request that the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission investigate whether News Corporation, a U.S.-based corporation, has violated United States law - specifically the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (15 U.S.C. §§78dd-1, et seq.)  

As you know, senior officials of News Corporation subsidiaries have recently been arrested on allegations that they bribed members of London’s Metropolitan Police to gain access to private information.  If these allegations are true, they may constitute a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits corrupt payments intended to influence any act or decision of a foreign official.  

There have also been allegations that News Corporation employees may have illegally accessed the phone records of victims of the attacks of September 11, 2001.  We urge you to investigate whether any United States citizens had their privacy violated by this alleged hacking.  

The reported allegations against News Corporation are very serious, indicate a pattern of illegal activity, and involve thousands of potential victims.  It is important to ensure that no United States laws were broken and no United States citizens were victimized.    

Sincerely,

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

John D. Rockefeller, IV
United States Senator

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jul102011

Rupert Murdoch in UK for News of the World's Final Edition

WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The News of the World hit the newsstands for the last time Sunday but the scandal surrounding tabloid is just beginning to unfold.

The tabloid's owner, Rupert Murdoch, landed in London Sunday morning from the U.S. to try to contain the crisis. But it may already have derailed a planned takeover of the British Sky Broadcasting satellite network.

The News of the World wasn't just another paper in Murdoch's portfolio, it was the best-selling paper in the English-language.

But today, the tabloid that lived on scandal has died in a phone hacking scandal that extends to the British government.

"We praised high standards, we demanded high standards but, as we are now only too painfully aware, for a period of a few years up to 2006 some who worked for us, or in our name, fell shamefully short of those standards," the paper stated in an full-page editorial. "Quite simply, we lost our way. Phones were hacked, and for that this newspaper is truly sorry."

The newspaper shut down after 168 years, leaving its 270 person staff without jobs.

Lost in an epidemic of criminal activity in pursuit of stories, including hacking the voicemails of murder victims, terrorist victims and their families, a power network including Murdoch, British politicians and police are accused of supressing a full investigation.

While News of the World staff may be losing their jobs, one person isn't -- Rebekah Brooks, a chief executive for News Corporation, the parent company of News of the World who was a former editor during the time of the alleged phone hackings.

Calls for Brooks' dismissal abound but she isn't focused on that and neither is News Corporation Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch. He released a statement saying that he has total support for Brooks.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul082011

News Corp's Bid For BSkyB Uncertain 

WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation ended a tumultuous week with news that their proposed takeover bid of British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) is in jeopardy.

News Corp. announced on Thursday that it was closing their 168-year old tabloid, News of the World after revelations that it hacked into and deleted a missing 13-year-old girl’s phone in 2002. News of the World has been embroiled in allegations of hacking into the phones of members of the royal family, cabinet members and victims of the July 7, 2005 London subway and bus bombings.  Although News Corp. survived these past scandals, this week's revelations have led to public and political uproar forcing U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron to announce independent inquiries into the newspaper’s activities.

The communications regulator, Ofcom, issued a statement on Tuesday about the issue.  "In the light of the current public debate about phone hacking and other allegations, Ofcom confirms that it has a duty to be satisfied on an ongoing basis that the holder of a broadcasting licence is 'fit and proper'."

The New York Times reports that BSkyB's shares dropped by 7 percent from Monday and over 500,000 petition signatures opposing the media conglomerate's bid have been submitted to an advocacy group and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has delayed a decision on the bid until September due to political pressure following the scandal and the volume of objections his ministry has received.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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