Just ahead of News Corp.‘s official split into two entities, its UK press arm, News International, is rebranding. The company that’s parent to The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times, will henceforth be known as News UK. The new name and logo are “designed to convey a more coherent and logical identity for the new parent company across the globe,” News UK said. News International spiralled into controversy when the phone hacking scandal broke open in July 2011; the company has since shuttered tabloid News Of The World. Mike Darcey, CEO of News UK, said the company was beginning “a bright new chapter.” Referring to the scandals, Darcey said the rebrand “follows the fundamental changes of governance and personnel that have taken place to address the problems of the recent past. News International apologized to its victims and set up a compensation scheme; closed the News Of The World and co-operated with all the relevant authorities. New policies and procedures are in place across the company, its main titles are all under new leadership and the executive team has been transformed.”
Endemol Taps Former FremantleMedia Exec To Oversee Asian Operation
In the latest in a string of executive appointments, Big Brother producer Endemol has named Fotini Paraskakis managing director of its Asian operations to oversee creative, production and format sales activities across the region. The exec joins from FremantleMedia Asia where she was director of content for all of the company’s formats in the region including Idols, Got Talent and X Factor. As Endemol looks to expand in Asia, its recent projects there include a first series of Fear Factor and a second season of The Money Drop for Astro in Malaysia; a third season of Your Face Sounds Familiar on Hunan Satellite TV in China and the return of Deal Or No Deal and the launch of The Money Drop in the Philippines.
News International sent out an email today informing staffers that Rupert Murdoch last week resigned as director of News International and a string of other companies connected with the company’s London-based newspaper holdings. The email said Murdoch’s resignation is “part of the preparation of the business for the upcoming restructure into two companies.” Filings show Murdoch stepped down as the head of News International, Times Newspaper Holdings, and News Corp Investments last week. Newscorp has stated the resignations are “nothing more than a corporate housecleaning” before the company splits into separate publishing and entertainment businesses. Murdoch had previously stated he intends to remain as chairman of both companies. In February, son James Murdoch relinquished his position as executive chairman of News International. Analysts think both Murdochs want to abandon their role in UK publishing because of the phone-hacking scandal and probes.
Just now the Wall Street Journal, which Murdoch owns, reported:
News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch has quit the boards of several company subsidiaries as part of preparations for the coming split of the media giant into two companies, News Corp said. The boards include that of News International, the holding company of News Corp’s UK newspapers, said a person familiar with the situation. Other boards are in the United States, Australia and India.
“Last week, Mr. Murdoch stepped down from a number of boards, many of them small
Erstwhile News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks faced a grueling five hours of questioning Friday at the Leveson Inquiry into UK media ethics. The session focused largely on the relationship between politicians and the press and, as expected, it was confirmed that Brooks has had close dealings with senior British politicians. Those include current Prime Minister David Cameron, who, Brooks said, used to sign his text messages to her “DC” or “LOL” – which he thought meant “lots of love” until she corrected him that it meant “laugh out loud.” She did however refute the idea that Cameron at one time called her as many as 12 times a day. “That’s preposterous,” she said. Cameron did contact her regarding the phone-hacking scandal in 2010 she said, amid news reports of a bevy of civil suits against the ultimately-shuttered News Of The World. She maintained the conversations were general.
Brooks also said she spoke frequently with Rupert Murdoch – “sometimes every day” — when she was one of his senior executives. It’s been well-documented that Murdoch and Brooks were very tight, but she stopped short of confirming that the pair used to swim together during the News Corp chief’s visits to London as was put to her by inquiry counsel Robert Jay. “You need better sources,” she told Jay to laughter in the hearing room.
Almost 50 new civil claims have been filed in the phone hacking scandal that has rocked Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper division. In London this morning, Hugh Tomlinson, the attorney representing a large part of the claimants said he had 44 new cases and that 2 others had been filed separately, The Guardian reports. The alleged voice mail interceptions concern the now-shuttered tabloid News Of The World, which was controlled by News Corp division News International. Tomlinson told the High Court today that there were 4,791 potential phone hacking victims. Police are said to have identified 1,174 likely victims out of 1,892 who have been contacted, says The Guardian. About 60 cases have already been settled including one brought by Jude Law. Citing an attorney at News Corp’s UK press unit, The Wall Street Journal says the company is determined to settle all possible civil suits. The news of the civil suits comes as lawyers are considering whether to pursue cases in the US. Both James Murdoch, who was formerly the head of News International, and his father Rupert are scheduled to give evidence next week at the Leveson Inquiry into UK media ethics.
This would make the second time in 8 months the former News Of The World editor has been arrested in connection with the investigation into phone hacking at the newspaper. The UK media is reporting that Brooks, a once close associate of Rupert Murdoch, was taken into custody this morning – along with her horse-trainer husband – on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Scotland Yard has not confirmed the identities of the total 6 people arrested today, but has detailed the age, sex and location of the suspects. “A 43 year old woman was arrested at her home address in Oxfordshire and is being interviewed at an Oxfordshire police station,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement on its website. Brooks is 43 and lives in Oxfordshire. It recently emerged that Scotland Yard agreed to lend Brooks a horse for two years, reigniting questions about the relationships between police officers and News Corp’s UK press arm, News International, The Independent notes. Brooks was also arrested last summer after the phone hacking scandal broke open and 2 days after she resigned as chief executive of News International. She was released on bail. All of today’s arrests were made between 5 and 7am by officers from Operation Weeting, the taskforce charged with investigating the illegal interception …
That question seems to intrigue News Corp watchers far more than any debate about succession plans following today’s announcement that Deputy COO James Murdoch is relinquishing his role as executive chairman of the UK publishing unit. News Corp shares are up about 2% at mid-day, a contrast to the overall market which is slightly down. And many believe it’s because James’ departure from the publishing business gives investors a little more reason to hope that Rupert might ditch some or all of his newspapers. He loves the assets, but the Street considers them to be growth-challenged distractions. Wells Fargo Securities analyst Marci Ryvicker calls the news about James “one sign” that newspapers “may be spun, sold or otherwise shed.” Yesterday COO Chase Carey said that News Corp recognized such a move might help its stock price, which he says is “woefully undervalued.” But he tried to douse any belief that a plan to unload newspapers is on the company’s front-burner. “Our focus is on managing these businesses and improving profitability,” he said.
Why so little attention to James and his role in the line of succession? It’s now a foregone conclusion that
He’ll focus on News Corp’s pay TV operations once he moves to New York, the company says. It makes no mention of the fact that under James Murdoch’s watch at News International the UK publishing operation became embroiled in a humongous phone hacking and bribery scandal. But it’s telling that Tom Mockridge, who became CEO of News International in July, will now report to COO Chase Carey — not Murdoch, who retains his title as News Corp’s Deputy COO. Also noteworthy: CEO Rupert Murdoch’s citation of James’ accomplishments doesn’t include his management of UK publishing. James credits the unit’s “tremendous momentum” to ”the leadership of my father and Tom Mockridge.” News Corp has scoffed at speculation that it might dump its troubled newspapers — a move that some investors believe would boost the stock price. “Our focus is on managing these businesses and improving profitability,” Carey told investors yesterday.
Here’s today’s release about James:
New York, NY February 29, 2012 – News Corporation today announced that, following his relocation to the Company’s headquarters in New York, James Murdoch, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, has relinquished his position as Executive Chairman of News International, its UK publishing unit. Tom Mockridge, Chief Executive Officer of News International, will continue in his post and will report to News Corporation President and COO Chase Carey.
Following yesterday’s revelations of settlements in the News Of The World phone hacking scandal, it’s now reported that News Corp’s News International could face an FBI investigation over a possible offense on US soil involving Jude Law. According to The Telegraph, the potential FBI probe relates to a 2003 News Of The World article that News International has acknowledged was the result of phone hacking. The article contains references to phone calls Law’s assistant made to the actor when he arrived at an airport believed to be New York’s JFK. According to the Telegraph report, if Law’s phone was on a US network, it could mean an offense under US law. The FBI confirmed it was looking into the situation. In related news, News International has been ordered to search more computers for evidence of attempts by former employees to perpetrate a cover up of phone hacking schemes.
The former News Of The World editor told News International staffers in an email that she has become “a focal point of the debate” over the integrity of Rupert Murdoch’s news operations and that is “now detracting attention from all our honest endeavours to fix the problems of the past.” But the resignation suggests that Murdoch feels seriously threatened. His company is being investigated by UK police, Parliament, Prime Minister David Cameron, and now in the U.S. by the FBI. Earlier, Murdoch stood by Brooks even after he closed NOTW, abandoned his effort to buy BSkyB, and Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband publicly called on her to leave. Many people questioned why Brooks kept her job last week while hundreds of NOTW employees lost theirs. Brooks had been editor in 2002 when the paper tampered with voice mail messages of murdered 13-year-old Milly Dowler, leading her parents to believe she might still be alive. Brooks is being replaced by an executive with no connection to Murdoch’s newspapers and the scandal: Sky Italia CEO Tom Mockridge. Here’s the News International announcement:
Sienna Miller, the actress who is suing Rupert Murdoch’s UK news organization for hacking into her cell phone, has been offered £100,000 ($163,000) in compensation. News International has also offered to pay Miller’s legal costs after having recently publicly apologized for intercepting voicemails, it emerged this afternoon in London’s High Court. Miller is considering the Murdoch offer. The packed courtroom also heard that Jude Law is expected to issue legal proceedings shortly. The High Court was deciding how to proceed, wading through 9,200 pages of evidence in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. Mr Justice Vos has decided four test cases for alleged victims of phone hacking by the News of the World should go ahead later this year. The cases could create framework for action from 91 alleged victims, which could cost Murdoch’s news empire millions of pounds in damages.
The actor, who’s starred in several recent Fox releases including Marmaduke and Percy Jackson, is one of several celebrities whose mobile phone was allegedly hacked by Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator hired by Murdoch tabloid News of the World. Coogan has instructed London lawyers Schillings to complain to the Murdoch publishing empire, and Schillings has written to News International threatening to sue. Coogan could argue that his privacy has been invaded and data protection laws breached. It will now be up to the newspaper giant as to whether it chooses to settle or defies Coogan in court. News Corp has already paid out more than $1.6 million settling similar legal cases,
NBC News this morning named ITV News’ international editor Bill Neely as its new Chief Global Correspondent, based in London. The hire reunites Neely with NBC News president Deborah Turness, who was formerly editor of ITV News from ’04-13. You’ve already seen Neely appear with some regularity on NBC News, through the news division’s partnership with ITN. Neely, who has spent more than two decades with ITV, will cover major international news and events for all of NBC News’ broadcasts and digital platforms. Neely previously served as ITV News Washington Correspondent for six years, covering five of the last six presidential elections, as well as the Oklahoma City bombings, the Atlanta Olympics, and superstorm Sandy.
Global Showbiz Briefs: New Revelations In Phone-Hacking Scandal; Claire Danes To Host Nobel Peace Prize Concert; More
Hacking Trial Lawyer: Brooks And Coulson Had 6-Year Affair
The phone-hacking trial taking place in London was the source of new revelations Thursday as prosecuting attorney Andrew Edis told jurors that defendants Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson carried on a six-year “secret” affair from 1998-2004. Brooks is the former head of News International (now News UK), the British press arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, and Coulson was editor of the now-closed News Of The World before leaving to join Prime Minister David Cameron’s team as his communications director. As part of his opening remarks, Edis stressed that he was not bringing up the relationship between Brooks and Coulson, which the prosecution said was evident from a letter to Coulson that was found on one of Brooks’ computers, to intrude on their privacy or pass judgment. “The point that I’m going to make in relation to that letter is that over the relevant period, what Mr Coulson knew, Mrs Brooks knew too. And what Mrs Brooks knew, Mr Coulson knew too — that’s the point.” He told the court the affair spanned the period covered by the phone-hacking conspiracy charges the pair is facing, according to The Times. “Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson are charged with conspiracy,” Edis said, “and, when people are charged with conspiracy, the first question a jury has to answer is how well did they know each other? How much did they trust each other?” At the time of the letter in 2004, Brooks was editor of The Sun and Coulson was at NOTW.
On October 14, Rupert Murdoch tweeted: “Big media trials in London in 2 weeks. Remember, everyone innocent until proven guilty, entitled to fair trial in most countries.” Murdoch was referring to the criminal trial related to phone hacking at his now defunct News Of The World tabloid. This morning, eight defendants including former Murdoch employees Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson made it to court amid a media frenzy for what some are calling the “Trial of the Century.” It may feel like a century once the proceedings wrap sometime around Easter 2014 and after an expected 100 witnesses have been called. Jury selection began today with the prosecution starting later in the week.
While Murdoch, Brooks and Coulson are no longer linked professionally, the outcome of the trial has the potential to impact the mogul’s business going forward. Even the News Corp-owned Wall Street Journal wrote that the courtroom drama “could further embarrass both the media giant and the British government.” One of the lines of questioning during the Leveson Inquiry into UK media ethics, the probe hatched by Prime Minister David Cameron in the wake of the News Of The World scandal, focused on the relationships between politicians and newspaper proprietors and editors. With Brooks and Coulson now standing trial, this could put News Corp’s relationship with the UK government back into the spotlight. Brooks was head of News Corp‘s UK press arm, News International (now News UK), until the phone-hacking scandal first exploded at the News Of The World in July 2011. She has denied the five charges against her including conspiracy to hack phones, conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office by paying officials for stories, and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Coulson was formerly editor of News Of The World. He went on to become Cameron’s spin doctor, a post he vacated in 2011. He is facing three charges related to phone hacking and conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. They are joined by six other defendants who have all pleaded not guilty, including Brooks’ husband Charlie, a longtime Cameron friend.
News Corp has paid out nearly $200 million in the past year alone in settlements related to the ongoing phone hacking scandal. Late last week, the company made it very clear that it doesn’t intend to make a payment to Eunice Huthart, a former body double for Angelina Jolie. In a June civil complaint, Huthart became the first person to file a hacking-scandal suit against News Corp and its UK press arm News International in the U.S. On September 20, News Corp filed back, asking the federal court to dismiss Huthart’s privacy violations case on a series of grounds. “The Court should dismiss the complaint on the grounds of lack of personal jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. But it need not even reach those issues — instead, the Court should dismiss this lawsuit under the doctrine of forum non conveniens with instructions that it be re-filed, if at all, in the United Kingdom,” said the motion by the company (read it here). A hearing in the case is scheduled for January 6.
John Malone’s Liberty Global acquired the UK’s Virgin Media in a $23B deal in June. In the past year, Britain’s No. 2 pay-TV operator has added 1,000 extra customer service roles while its rival, 21st Century Fox-controlled BSkyB, said in May that it plans to add 550 jobs to meet demand and serve a growing customer base. Now, Virgin is looking at streamlining its senior and middle management ranks with the possible axing of 600 positions. The cuts would amount to about 4% of the company’s workforce and are intended to “find the best shape” for Virgin and help build an “agile and efficient” organization, I’m told. After the acquisition by Liberty, Virgin CEO Neil Berkett exited the company and Tom Mockridge, coincidentally the former CEO of News Corp’s News International, came aboard to replace him. Regarding the job cuts, Mockridge said today, “Like organizations across the public and private sector, Virgin Media is making sure it has the structure it needs to meet the needs of its customers. These proposals are designed to take advantage of the opportunities that come with being part of the world’s largest cable operator and create an organization that’s fit for growth.”
In the wake of revelations of a secret recording of Rupert Murdoch addressing staff at his Sun tabloid, the UK’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport in July invited the mogul to discuss the matter at an official hearing. (The comments inlcuded Murdoch talking about his company’s handling of bribery and hacking charges at his UK newspapers.) Murdoch accepted the invitation, but no date was set at the time given the impending summer recess. Now it looks as though Murdoch’s appearance could be postponed by as much as a year. According to The Guardian, the hearing was shelved after the attorney general and Murdoch’s own lawyers intervened. With criminal trials about to begin in relation to the activities of News Corp’s UK press arm, News International (now News UK), there was a consideration on both sides that any testimony could prejudice those proceedings. Eight defendants go to trial on October 28, including former Murdoch lieutenant Rebekah Brooks. A further three trials are scheduled, with the last expected in June 2014. The Guardian says that Murdoch wrote to the committee this week saying lawyers advised him not to submit to questioning until all the criminal trials were finished. Committee chair John Whittingdale confirmed receipt of the letter and said, “At the same time, the committee received its own advice that there was a risk that any questions might prejudice the trials. …
Global Showbiz Briefs: UK To Charge Ex-Newspaper Staffers In Bribery Scandal; Yahoo Taps Dawn Airey For SVP Post; More
Ex-Daily Mirror, Sun Staffers Among 9 Charged In Bribery Scandal
Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service said today that nine people would be charged in relation to allegations of illegal payments to public officials. Among them are former Daily Mirror journalist Greig Box-Turnbull, and ex-Sun staffers Graham Dudman, John Troup and Vince Soodin. Box-Turnbull is being called up on two charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office with regard to alleged payments to prison officers for information. The prison officers also are being charged as co-conspirators. Dudman is alleged to have requested the authorization of payments to one or more police officers and to have authorized payments to public officials in his capacity as Sun managing editor. Troup is charged as a co-conspirator. Soodin will be charged with conspiring with a police officer to commit misconduct in public office. The remaining defendants are a police officer and a hospital employee. All will appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on September 5. The new charges come a few days after the revelation that Scotland Yard is actively investigating Sun owner News International (now News UK) for possible criminal violations related to the phone-hacking scandal and allegations of illegal payments. News UK is the British press arm of News Corp.
Dawn Airey Tapped As Yahoo’s SVP Europe, Middle East And Africa
Yahoo has appointed UK television veteran Dawn Airey as SVP Europe, Middle East and Africa. Beginning November 1, Christophe Parcot, who has served as Yahoo’s interim lead of EMEA, will take on a new role focused on expanding the web giant’s business in the region. Airey joins Yahoo from RTL Group. She has also held high-level executive positions at Five, ITV, BSkyB and Channel4.