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Tabloid scandal could impact future News Corp. deals

Stephen Beard Jul 8, 2011
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JEREMY HOBSON: Now to the U.K. and the phone hacking scandal that has brought down Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid. British Prime Minister David Cameron held a press conference about the scandal this morning. And he said British politicians should not have ignored the issue.

For more, let’s bring in Marketplace’s Stephen Beard. He’s live in London. Good morning.

STEPHEN BEARD: Hello Jeremy.

HOBSON: Well Stephen, why is the prime minister getting involved in this scandal?

BEARD: Well, this has become a major political issue on a number of levels. First because Cameron hired as his official spokesman a man called Andy Coulson. And Coulson had been editor of the News of the World. And he’d been caught up in the allegations, not just of phone hacking, but also bribing the police and perjury. One newspaper is reporting this morning that Coulson is going to be arrested later today. Well, this morning, Cameron said the people will decide whether he, Cameron, made an error of judgement in hiring Coulson.

HOBSON: And what about News Corporation and Rupert Murdoch, Stephen. Is this really about this tabloid — the News of the World — or does it affect Murdoch’s other media properties?

BEARD: Throughout this whole affair, Murdoch has had his eye nervously on the big prize — his plan to take over the 61 percent of the satellite broadcaster BSkyB that he doesn’t already own. This is the biggest commercial TV station in the U.K. It’s a very big prize, it’s hugely profitable. If Murdoch gets complete ownership, it’ll make up something like one-third of his global profits. Now, the government’s had a public consultation process on this deal. That process comes to an end today, and over the past week, it’s been inundated with submissions, something like 200,000. This’ll mean the government, perhaps to its relief, will be able to postpone a decision until much later in the year.

HOBSON: Marketplace’s Stephen Beard in London. Stephen thanks.

BEARD: OK Jeremy.

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