Reuters blog archive
By Chris Hughes
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
The Murdochs’ UK political friendships are backfiring on all concerned. Fresh revelations about the media moguls’ relationships have created new uncertainty over News Corp’s part ownership of UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB. They also have the potential to throw the UK’s coalition government into a full-blown crisis.
James Murdoch’s appearance before the UK’s Leveson enquiry into media standards on April 24 was his first grilling by an experienced lawyer on phone hacking, and it showed. But while there were some awkward moments, the questioning did not reveal any telling new evidence that Murdoch knew more about phone hacking at the News of the World than he has previously admitted.
The shocks came when the lid was lifted on contacts between the government and News Corp after the media group bid to buy out BSkyB. It’s hardly surprising that a large corporation might seek to influence the approval process for a big deal. But the reams of detail, mainly email correspondence, appear to go far beyond procedural enquiries and routine advocacy.
from The Great Debate:
On the night Queen Elizabeth scampered back from her Scottish castle to address an angry crowd outside Buckingham Palace – the crowd protesting she hadn’t paid enough respect to the memory of Princess Diana, killed in a car crash the week before – Rupert Murdoch was in the newsroom of the London Times. “There’s your headline,” he told the editor in charge. “Queen Saves Neck!” It was a perfect tabloid headline for a perfect tabloid story.
That Diana, named after the goddess of hunting, should die hounded by a pack of snap-happy paparazzi added a vein of irony to the story of her tragic life. A similar irony informs the scandal engulfing Murdoch. The biter has been bit, a fact clearly on display when Rupert and his son James, arm in arm with their flame-maned employee Rebekah Brooks, were shoved and jostled in a London street by the newshounds of Fleet Street. Hauled before a House of Commons committee, the usually unrepentant mogul looked dented when he uttered the phrase that will litter his obituaries: “This is the most humble day of my life.”
Will Big Media and Big Tech companies ever stop punishing their biggest fans?
Like many people, I woke up yesterday and reached for my iPad for my morning hit of news, entertainment and information, so I could start my day. (And like many, I’m embarrassed to admit it.) Padding to the front door to get a newspaper still sounds more respectable, but my iPad gives me a far more current, rich and satisfying media experience than a still-warm printed Times could ever produce.
Except, lately, it doesn’t. Yesterday morning, I saw the exciting news that Bill Simmons, ESPN’s most popular, profane and controversial writer, had secured an interview with President Obama. Simmons published his interview in podcast, text and video form on Grantland, a longform sports journalism website he founded last year under the ESPN umbrella. I clicked over to the story from my Twitter feed and saw three YouTube excerpts of Simmons with Obama. And that’s all I saw. When I hit play on the videos, I discovered ESPN had set them to be “unavailable” on mobile devices.
from Alison Frankel:
For the Justice Department's Foreign Corrupt Practices prosecutors, last week was the best of times and the worst of times. A federal judge in Houston sentenced the former CEO of the Halliburton spin-off KBR Inc. to 30 months in prison for his role in a 10-year scheme to pay $182 million in bribes to Nigerian officials in order to secure $6 billion in military oil and gas contracts. Albert Stanley's sentencing marked the end of one of the DOJ's most successful FCPA prosecutions, in which KBR agreed to pay $579 million in criminal fines and disgorged profits -- the second-highest fine in an FCPA case at the time the guilty plea and Securities and Exchange Commission settlement was announced in 2009. The KBR case is an FCPA paradigm, a classic demonstration of the law's power to expose and punish corruption that would otherwise have stayed in the shadows.
The Stanley sentencing came a day after the end of the Justice Department's biggest FCPA blunder, the so-called Africa sting charges against more than 20 defendants accused of agreeing to pay bribes to Gabon officials who supposedly controlled military contract awards. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington granted the DOJ's motion to dismiss charges against all of the defendants who hadn't pleaded guilty, after prosecutors failed to obtain any convictions in the first two Africa sting trials. Leon took the opportunity to castigate prosecutors for a "very, very aggressive conspiracy theory" that turned out to be unsupported by "the necessary evidence to sustain it." I've written about the troubling backstory of the Africa sting prosecution, in which the government set up an operation center and deployed a highly compromised informant specifically to manufacture FCPA charges, with federal agents all the while texting one another about the attention they'd get when news of the case broke.
Three new movies compete for filmgoers over the long President's Day weekend in the United States. Nicolas Cage is expected to lead the pack of newcomers with Sony's 3D action sequel "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance."
Box-office watchers project Friday-through-Monday sales in the United States and Canada could roar to $30 million for the follow-up to the original "Ghost Rider," released over the same weekend in 2007.
You can say what you like about Rupert Murdoch, and most people have, but he doesn't do things halfway. His decision to join Twitter on New Year's eve has set the Twitterati and blogosphere alight not just because the 80-year old media baron joined but because unlike every other CEO or executive who's joined Twitter, he's actually expressed some real opinions -- some of which are controversial given who he is. When Reuters asked CEOs at its Global Media Summit last fall most felt tweeting wasn't for them.
In Murdoch's first 24 hours he started off relatively gently praising an op-ed on Ron Paul in his Wall Street Journal, extolled the benefits of vacation, praised the founder of original founder of his New York Post and championed two of his Fox studios' movies 'The Descendants' and 'We bought a Zoo'.
News Corp Chief Executive and Chairman Rupert Murdoch sold off the bulk of his common shareholding according to a regulatory filing but, have no fear the 80 year-old mogul is still very much in charge both in terms of management and financial control.
According to the filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, from Nov 16 to Nov 17 Murdoch sold a total of 3.6 million News Corp A shares for between $16.76 and and $17.07 each for a total value of some $62 million. This means Murdoch''s A shares holding went down to just 381,000 from around 4 million. The elder Murdoch had made the disposals for "financial planning" reasons, according to a source. Back in February Murdoch had bought 2.8 million A shares for between $17.19 to $17.53.
News Corp Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch on Thursday said the United States should work harder at making itself a more attractive country for people to emigrate to, as an important route back to enabling economic growth.
Murdoch, 80, who was born in Melbourne, Australia, became a naturalized a U.S. citizen in 1985.
"We have in our DNA the most entrepreneurship," said Murdoch speaking at a conference on immigration sponsored by the Partnership for New York City and Partnership for a New American Economy. "It's no accident that people over all over Europe want to come here…and from China. This is a great country."
By Jeffrey Goldfarb
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
Rupert Murdoch still gets a kick out of the “fair and balanced” slogan used by his Fox News channel. He had a good laugh about it only last week at News Corp’s annual shareholder meeting. The results of a vote conducted at that gathering, released Monday, show that everyone’s now equally in on the joke about the company’s shameful corporate governance as they are the conservative bias of his TV news operation.
from Jack Shafer:
New York Times reporter Jeremy W. Peters invests 2,400 words today in a Page One story delineating the "rift" between News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch and his son and heir apparent, News Corp. Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch.
If News Corp. were a normal company and Rupert Murdoch a normal father, readers might glean from this report that a real power struggle is going on for the future of the company. But News Corp. is not your normal company, Rupert is not your normal dad, and there really is no struggle going on for the future of the company, only a replay of the previous "rifts" that have opened between Rupert Murdoch and his two other children by his second wife Anna—Elisabeth and Lachlan. You see, Rupert sets his adult children up to smack them down.