Lawmakers pile pressure on Murdoch after phone-hacking scandal | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 13.07.2011
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Lawmakers pile pressure on Murdoch after phone-hacking scandal

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron has said News Corp should sort out "the mess over phone hacking." UK political parties have united to urge media mogul Murdoch not to take over BSkyB, as the scandal widens.

Rupert Murdoch and his son James

Murdoch (right) already owns a large share of BSkyB

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron told the UK parliament on Wednesday that an inquiry into phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp would call witnesses under oath, and report its findings within a year. Cameron said he would give evidence himself at the judge-led inquiry, if asked to do so.

He added that "anyone involved in News International phone hacking, however high up, must play no part in UK media."

A motion urging Rupert Murdoch to drop plans to buy the pay-TV broadcaster BSkyB is being put forward in the UK parliament later on Wednesday.

As a phone-hacking scandal at one of Murdoch's newspapers widens, the opposition Labour party has submitted a motion to parliament. Public anger over the scandal means the two parties in the ruling coalition will support the non-binding motion.

Murdoch plans to extend his global media empire, News Corporation, through a takeover of the pay-TV operator BSkyB. He is bidding for the 61 percent of the company that he does not already own.

Public outcry

The closure on Sunday of the newspaper at the center of the scandal - the News of the World - was seen as a tactic by Murdoch to try and salvage the $14-billion (10 billion euros) bid for BSkyB.

Last edition of News of the World

News of the World is just one of Murdoch's newspapers

However, public anger has risen over allegations that reporters at the paper hired investigators who hacked into the voice mails of thousands of people, including dead British soldiers and a schoolgirl who was abducted and later found dead.

Ministers had already given their provisional blessing to the deal, which critics say would give Murdoch too much power in Britain. His British media operation News International already operates The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times newspapers.

The bid for BSkyB has now been referred to Britain's Competition Commission, which will investigate the pending deal.

Police investigation

David Cameron announced last week there would be public inquiries into the allegations, and Murdoch, his son James and Rebekah Brooks, former News of the World editor and current chief executive of News International, have been summoned to appear.

David Cameron

Cameron has backed an opposition motion to urge Murdoch to drop the bid

The public inquiries will focus both on the allegations of hacking, and also on allegations that police sold information to journalists.

Serving and former senior officers faced questions from a parliamentary committee on Tuesday, surrounding allegations of bribery.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown accused another of Murdoch's papers of hiring "criminals" to obtain private documents and using illegal methods to break the news of his son's illness.

Murdoch's tabloid newspaper The Sun disputed Brown's account, calling it "false" and "a smear."

Spreading to US?

Meanwhile, a US senator has called for an investigation of News Corp practices in the United States, fearing a similar scandal could have taken place.

"I am concerned that the admitted phone hacking in London may have extended to 9/11 victims or other Americans," Senator John Rockefeller said Tuesday.

Although the scandal has been contained to Murdoch's British businesses, News Corp is based in New York and owns prominent media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, New York Post and Fox Broadcasting.

News Corporation also holds just under 50 percent share in German pay-tv channel Sky Deutschland.

Author: Catherine Bolsover, Joanna Impey (AFP, AP, Reuters)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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