Scottish police have arrested and charged Andy Coulson, the former communications chief of British Prime Minister David Cameron and former editor of News Corp.’s News of the World tabloid, of committing perjury before the High Court in Glasgow, the Wall Street Journal reports. Coulson was taken to Scotland for questioning about his testimony at the perjury trial of former Scottish politician Tommy Sheridan in 2010. On the witness stand in that case, Coulson denied there was a culture of phone hacking at News of the World during his tenure. The paper alleged Sheridan had visited a swingers’ club. Sheridan was convicted of perjury and recently got out of prison.
The debt rating service says that bond holders have no need to fear the fallout from a parliamentary report yesterday that says Rupert Murdoch’s handling of the UK hacking scandal made him “not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.” The media and entertainment giant’s “significant cash balance and strong free cash flow generation mitigates the uncertainty of additional financial fallout from the phone hacking scandal,” Moody’s Investors Service concluded today. News Corp has a strong Baa1 senior unsecured rating; it generates about $2.5B a year in cash and had $9.4B in its coffers at the end of 2011, equal to more than 60% of its $15.5B in debt. Moody’s says that after “cutting through the highly politicized hyperbole” it concluded that News Corp can “mitigate potential costs” from the scandal. The report from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee “represents an opinion without any direct regulatory implications.”
Labour MP Tom Watson bared his contempt for Rupert Murdoch’s company in his new book Dial M For Murdoch, according to the Guardian’s report about his comments today at a press conference to introduce the …
Rupert Murdoch is in for a lot of embarrassment tonight based on this clip from the documentary about the UK hacking scandal that will air on PBS’ Frontline. It describes how important News Of The World and other UK tabloids were to Murdoch’s rise, his love of gossip, and how his …
This is sure to add fuel to Wall Street’s hopeful speculation that News Corp might sell its scandal plagued UK newspapers. Deputy COO James Murdoch, Rupert’s son, has wiped the ink off his hands by resigning from the boards of the company’s UK print operations, according to multiple news reports citing News Corp filings at Companies House, which regulates corporate activities. He left Times Newspaper Holdings — the institution that was supposed to protect the independence of the Times of London and the Sunday Times when Rupert Murdoch bought them in 1981 — as well as News Corporation Investments and News International Publications Limited. These moves follow James’ resignation last month from the executive chairman job at News International, which oversees the UK print operations. He said at the time that the decision made sense following his move to New York to expand “my commitment to News Corporation’s international television businesses and other key initiatives across the Company.” Murdoch has also
The News Corp Deputy COO, and son of CEO Rupert Murdoch, is holding fast to his position that others are to blame for the News Of The World hacking scandal — as well as his company’s effort to downplay the extent of the lawbreaking when executives testified to Parliament about the matter in 2009. ”It would have been better if I had not relied on the people who had assured me that thorough investigations had been carried out and that further investigations were unnecessary,” he said in a seven-page defense sent Monday to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Murdoch sent the letter, released today, as committee members prepare to decide whether he and other News International executives misled Parliament in 2009 when they said that phone hacking was limited to one rogue reporter. Murdoch acknowledges that “it would have been better if I had asked more questions, requested more documents and scrutinised them carefully.” But he still points the finger at other execs, especially former legal adviser Tom Crone and former NOTW editor Colin Myler who told Parliament that they warned Murdoch that the scandal was bigger than he had publicly acknowledged. Their testimony ”displays inconsistencies on this subject, while my evidence has always been consistent,” Murdoch writes. Before taking charge of the UK print unit in late 2007 he “did not follow the details” of earlier arrests. Even afterward he was ”never intimately involved with the workings of News Of The World, or any of the other newspapers within News International” in the belief that “a newsroom should be run by the editor.”
Today’s Rupert Murdoch’s birthday, normally a day for reflection. But it’s hard to believe he feels much joy in that exercise as he considers how much his world changed over the last 12 months — and especially since July, when the UK hacking scandal exploded into public view. A year ago Murdoch seemed to be on top of the world, with plans to prepare his children to take charge of a growing global media empire. Now he’s struggling to keep his assets, and legacy, intact. Here are a few of the more important ways Murdoch’s life changed in his first year as an octogenarian.
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.
If you have any interest in News Corp’s News Of The World hacking scandal, then you should check out the compelling BusinessWeek story that Bloomberg’s highly respected legal affairs reporter Greg Farrell has this morning about a key moment in the chronology last year: Farrell provides a fly-on-the-wall account of a London dinner party on May 19 where Rupert — hoping to spare himself and his son, Deputy COO James, from embarrassment — decided to let Rebekah Brooks, then CEO of News International, continue to manage the company’s response to the widening scandal. In doing so, Murdoch took the advice of former New York schools chancellor Joel Klein and an outside lawyer, Brendan Sullivan, who defended Oliver North in the Iran-Contra hearings. But he also ignored the recommendation of News Corp’s then-general counsel Lon Jacobs. He had urged Murdoch to take charge and launch his own investigation, instead of letting the London group investigate itself. The CEO told the lawyers, COO Chase Carey, Brooks and others at the party: ”This is going to be handled by Joel and Brendan. I will handle the board. Everyone else stay out of it,” BW reports. Sullivan told the gathering that “Rebekah is innocent.” Two weeks later, Jacobs resigned.