A scathing report from a British parliamentary committee probing phone hacking and other alleged abuses at News Corp. asserts that CEO Rupert Murdoch is “not a fit person” to run an international company.
The report is worrying for Murdoch because the committee used the very words from the British Broadcast Act that are used to determine suitability of ownership of a TV license. Murdoch already controls 40 percent of Sky TV here and had wanted to take over the whole company.
That venture had profit of $1.7 billion in 2011 and now Murdoch may be forced to give it all up.
The committee wouldn’t say whether his son James misled Parliament, but it slammed his disengaged leadership, accusing him of “willful blindness.”
The committee said three News Corp. executives misled them under oath. Among them is Colin Myler, former News of the World editor and now editor of the New York Daily News.
The Murdochs and or their top executives could be called to face accusations of misleading Parliament.
The Tories voted for much of the report’s damning conclusions, but voted against the “fit person” censure. News Corp. may grasp this “partisan” division as evidence that it is about politics, not their behavior.
In statement today, News Corp. said: “Hard truths have emerged from the Select Committee Report: that there was serious wrongdoing at the News of the World; that our response to the wrongdoing was too slow and too defensive; and that some of our employees misled the Select Committee in 2009.
“News Corporation regrets, however, that the Select Committee’s analysis of the factual record was followed by some commentary that we, and indeed several members of the committee, consider unjustified and highly partisan. These remarks divided the members along party lines.
“We have already confronted and have acted on the failings documented in the Report: we have conducted internal reviews of operations at newspapers in the United Kingdom and indeed around the world, far beyond anything asked of us by the Metropolitan Police; we have volunteered any evidence of apparent wrongdoing to the authorities; and, we have instituted sweeping changes in our internal controls and our compliance programs on a world-wide basis, to help ensure that nothing like this ever happens again anywhere at News Corporation. ”
All of this has implications for Murdoch’s U.S. and worldwide holdings, which includes the Wall Street Journal and Fox News. The FBI is already investigating News Corp for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
“It’s a sad thing but he is finished, he is over. I think now of Mr. Murdoch in the past tense,” conservative media columnist Peter Oborne of The Telegraph told ABC News last week.
News Corp. stock rose 35 cents to $19.95 on the Nasdaq in New York on Tuesday. The stock’s 52-week low is$13.38, and its high is $20.40.