Great Britain's three political parties just made a deal to provide a degree of regulation for the British press. The deal produces a Royal Charter that establishes a press regulator at arms-length from the government plus a regulation regime that the major media companies can join.
The charter is an outgrowth of the Leveson Commission established to get to the bottom of the press abuses in the phone hacking scandal that resurfaced in 2011. Thousands of crime victims, celebrities, and lower profile citizens had their phone hacked by the press and private detectives working for the Murdoch papers and other media outlets. The London Metropolitan Police (the Met) colluded with the Murdoch papers both by ignoring obvious criminal behavior and by using police resources to track and snoop on the news targets of the tabloids.
Why would a news organization join the voluntary regulatory regime if it's voluntary? Good question. It's not exactly voluntary. Let's say The Mirror tabloid failed to join the regulatory organization. Any court cases brought against that paper/company would be subject to extraordinary damages compared to a media outlet that committed the very same transgression but happened to be part of the self-regulatory regime.
"A consortium of 18 heavyweight investors is calling for Mr Murdoch to stand down as chairman in the interests of good corporate governance and be replaced by an independent figure who is seen to be acting in the best interests of shareholders." The Independent, July 20
The investors have filed a resolution to remove Murdoch from power at the October News Corp shareholders meeting. The resolution will accompany those already filed by large investors in the United States.
What upsets the 18? Murdoch and his family have too much control. That control serves the family well, but not the shareholders. Specifically, recent scandals have hurt News Corp performance.
By Michael Collins
May Day! How remarkable (even though Rupert Murdoch was denounced by a committee of the House of Commons, not the entire body). Murdoch is "not a fit person" to run "a major international company," we were told in a report released by the Commons' committee investigating phone hacking on May 1). He may not be unbalanced, as Murdoch recently characterized former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, but he's certainly not fit. (Image)
Here's some of what this means:
1) There's no way Murdoch will survive the regulatory investigation on his ownership of media in Great Britain.. One of Ofcom's charters (the regulatory body) is to determine if Murdoch is a "fit and proper" person to own BSkyB and other British media properties.
2) When it looks like Murdoch has to divest the 39% News Corp interest in the highly profitable BSkyB pay TV network, institutional shareholders will Kirk out! The Sky enterprise amounted to 20% plus of News Corp's 2011 profits. Oops!
3) Murdoch won't go gentle into the dark night. He will become increasingly irrational as seen in his sting operation against his once loyal servant David Cameron. It is fair to assume that he's got more dirt on public officials than J. Edgar ever had … and he'll start using it.
4) Murdoch will retain the continued loyalty of the News Corp board (see members listed below). After the release of the condemnation by the Commons committee, Murdoch's board released a statement expressing "full confidence in Rupert Murdoch's fitness and support for his continuing to lead News Corporation into the future as its Chairman and CEO."
5) Murdoch may get the bums rush out of News Corp as a result of an institutional investor like the Christian Brothers Investment Services which has said it would ask the SEC to change the voting rights of shareholders (Murdoch has outsized representation in voting shares).
By Michael Collins
There was something tawdry and disgusting about the phone hacking by Rupert Murdoch's News of the World. The News Corporation owned tabloid hacked the phone mails of several thousand citizens of Great Britain. Victims included celebrities, politicians, and even a murdered eleven year old kidnap victim.
But that wasn't enough to generate type of criminal investigation of News Corporation that would topple Rupert Murdoch and his clan from the throne of the $30 billion News Corporation.
The current revelations of cable television hacking, laid out in detail by Australia's Financial Review and the BBC, provide a more concrete connection between outright criminality and the Murdoch run media giant. This alleged criminal behavior involves hackers on the payroll of a former Murdoch controlled Israel based company, NDS, and the demise of cable television competitors in Great Britain, the United States, and Australia due to that activity.
These allegations are reinvigorating the institutional shareholders revolt that may be the end of the Murdoch clan's control of News Corporation.
By Michael Collins
Ray Adams is a name you will hear more frequently as the latest and perhaps most fatal Murdoch - News Corp. scandal emerges.
When Murdoch was setting up his BSKYB cable network in England, he had some serious competition. ITV had a digital service called ITV Digital. The British broadcaster was prepared to go head to head with Murdoch's network. As the services rolled out, ITV Digital became subject to furious hacker attacks. The hackers broke the ITV encryption code and distributed it widely allowing so many people to get free ITV service, the venture failed, largely due to the piracy of its service, and Murdoch had a clean road to mega profits with BSKYB.
By Michael Collins
"George Osborne insisted that the government would stick unwaveringly to its austerity plans, despite admitting that the long-term damage caused to the economy by the credit crunch was forcing him to revise down estimates for growth that were already weak." The Guardian, September 6
A former Madame and dominatrix, Natalie Rowe, made high profile news yesterday in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Ms. Rowe said that her phone was hacked in 2005 just before the Daily Mirror did a story about her use of cocaine and other vice activities with Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne. The drug use and girls-for-hire action occurred, it is claimed, during and shortly after the time Osborne was a student at Oxford University and involved members of the elite Bullingdon drinking club.
Shut down in shame in July, Rupert Murdoch's News of the World (NoW) got the intel on the Mirror story through a phone hack on Rowe's phone. That resulted in what the Financial Times called a spoiler story. As the Mirror story broke, NoW's campaign to discredit Rowe was in full swing.
By Michael Collins
The Murdoch's and their former chief executive of News International testified before a House of Commons committee yesterday. Their hours of explanations can be summarized in a phrase: we knew nothing. (Image)
Rupert Murdoch was too busy flying around the world milking his cash cow media properties to be at all involved.
Number two son James was the executive in direct command and he heard nothing.
Rebekah Brooks, editor of the News of the World at the time of the Milly Dowler hacking, completed the trifecta of ignorance. Since she knew nothing, her very frequent contact with the Murdoch father-son team had to be, as the Fugs said, "a whole lot of nothing."
By Michael Collins
How will they get rid of Rupert Murdoch and his toxic enterprises?
July 4, 2011 may turn into the people's Independence Day. On that day, stellar journalist Nick Davies of the Guardian released his story; Missing Milly Dowler's voicemail was hacked by News of the World. Twelve year old Milly Dowler had been kidnapped with foul play feared. The Murdoch tabloid couldn't resist. News of the World (the News) hired a private detective to hack Milly's voicemail. Finding the mail box full, the News or its hired dick deleted existing messages to make room for new ones, all to fuel their ongoing coverage. The deleted messages raised hopes by Milly's parents that she was still alive and using her voicemail. (Image)
The Davies story elicited a reaction of near universal shock, outrage, and revulsion. Milly had already been murdered by the time the Murdoch paper began its illegal tapping.
The public revulsion resulted in immediate and fervent popular demands for justice. Those demands were compounded by follow-up stories on other Murdoch media hacking. As it turned out, the News also broke into the voicemails of war widows to capture their most intimate exchanges on the loss of fallen soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. All in all, at least 4,000 citizens had their voicemails hacked to boost the Murdoch publication's circulation and profits.
There are some crimes so universally offensive that even mentioning the suspected crime has devastating effects. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) raised just such a question yesterday. In a brief press statement, the Senator said:
"The reported hacking by News Corporation newspapers against a range of individuals - including children - is offensive and a serious breach of journalistic ethics. This raises serious questions about whether the company has broken U.S. law, and I encourage the appropriate agencies to investigate to ensure that Americans have not had their privacy violated. I am concerned that the admitted phone hacking in London by the News Corp. may have extended to 9/11 victims or other Americans. If they did, the consequences will be severe." Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, July 12 (Image: NASA)
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