Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s News International (now News UK), took the stand for the first time today in London’s long-running phone-hacking trial. This was Brooks’ first time in the witness box since the criminal trial stemming from the phone-hacking scandal at the now-shuttered News Of The World began in October. After nearly four months, prosecutors rested their case this week and the defense is just beginning. According to local media reports, the presiding judge, John Saunders, instructed jurors that Brooks is to be found not guilty on one of the five counts against her. She was acquitted on the single charge of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office related to payments The Sun allegedly made for a picture of Prince William wearing a bikini at a costume party. “There is no case to answer for Mrs Brooks” on the charge, the judge said. The Guardian reports he told the jury his decision was “a matter of law.” He did not provide further detail, but The Associated Press reports Saunders said there was “considerable uncertainty” about the photo’s provenance. The photo was taken when William, now the Duke of Cambridge, was at Sandhurst Military Academy and Brooks was editor of The Sun.
Related: Trial Of Former Murdoch Newspaper Lieutenants Starts In London
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Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage.
UPDATE, 4:09 PM: The UK government today announced a fresh sweep of press regulation reforms, brought about as a result of the News Of The World phone-hacking brouhaha. But key newspaper groups, including Rupert Murdoch’s News International, have refused to endorse the government’s proposals. A late-night round of cross-party negotiations prevented a potentially embarrassing rebellion from within David Cameron’s own party as the two proposals were brought to consensus. The final reforms will see British papers regulated by a watchdog run completely independently of the media. Fines of up to £1M — thought to be the toughest in the world — would be handed down to the worst offenders. And the only legal statute relates to the right of ministers to change the rules in future, designed to prevent any possible corruptions to freedom of speech.
In a group statement signed by News International, along with Daily Mail publishers Associated Newspapers, the Telegraph media group and Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell, newspaper proprietors say the proposals feature “several deeply contentious issues which have not yet been resolved with the industry”. As one senior exec told the Guardian, “This is a political deal between the three parties and Hacked Off,” referring to the campaign group fronted by Hugh Grant. “It is not a deal with the newspapers.” Read More »
Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage.
A swathe of high-profile names are getting big paychecks from Rupert Murdoch’s News International this week as the company tries to consign the News Of The World phone-hacking scandal … Read More »
Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage
The Metropolitan Police officer charged for trying to sell information about the force’s phone-hacking investigation has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Earlier this month, April Casburn became the first person … Read More »
China’s 2012 Box Office Up 30% To $2.74B
China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television has released updated box office figures for 2012 with sales hitting $2.74B for a 30.18% increase over last year. SARFT said the nation produced 893 total films last year including 745 features and 33 animated pictures, the Xinhua news agency reported. On its way to an estimated 16,000 screens by 2015, the country is adding 10.5 screens a day. As noted last week, however, those screens are increasingly drawing crowds for foreign films which have eaten into the local share. Imports took $1.4B in box office for 51.54% of the market in 2012. Still, homegrown hit Lost In Thailand recently became the highest-grossing Chinese film of all time with nearly $190M in less than a month of release. Read More »
The actor was one of the most high-profile victims of the scandal that ended in the shuttering of the News Corp-owned UK tabloid News Of The World. Hugh Grant‘s settlement for damages with Rupert Murdoch’s British publishing … Read More »
There are some interesting nuggets for investors in what’s mostly a technical document that kicks off the process that will lead to the spinoff of News Corp‘s publishing assets into a new, publicly traded company. It’s ”another important step forward in the evolution of our company and in the establishment of two independent global leaders in Fox Group and the new News Corporation,” CEO Rupert Murdoch says. The filing notes that the assets going into the new company generated a net loss of $92M in the three months ending September 30, down from a $38M profit in the period last year, on revenues of $2.13B, -1.5%. That includes a $115M impairment charge, with $112M for newspapers following a restructuring and layoffs in the UK and Australia. The publishing company assets also lost $2.08B in the fiscal year that ended in June, down from a $678M profit, on $8.65B in revenues, -4.8%. Much of the decline is due to the closing of the scandal-ridden News Of The Worldtabloid. The spinoff will include Fox Sports Australia which, for some strange reason, News Corp says “favorably complements our publishing and education portfolio.” The document notes that UK and U.S. officials are still investigating the hacking and bribery scandals (referred to here as “U.K. Newspaper Matters”). The proceedings “could damage our reputation and might impair our ability to conduct our business.” Although the company has resolved many cases, “management believes that it is probable that additional claims will be filed.” Read More »
Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and other former journalists from the now-shuttered News Of The World tabloid were in a London court today to face charges related to the phone-hacking scandal. After a short hearing at the Old Bailey court, a provisional trial date was set for September 9, 2013. Brooks, the former chief exec of News Corp.’s UK press ar News International, is accused of three counts of alleged phone hacking, including a general charge that could affect as many as 600 victims including celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. She also faces three counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Read More »
Hugh Grant has taken his first legal action against the News Corp.-owned News International over alleged phone hacking at the now-defunct News Of The World tabloid. Grant filed a complaint at the high court today, … Read More »
Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage:
Metropolitan police detectives have been busy in the past two days, making further arrests in relation to alleged phone and computer hacking at Rupert Murdoch‘s UK press division. A man believed to be former News International legal exec, Tom Crone, was taken into custody this morning, and Patrick Foster, a former journalist at News Corp.’s UK flagship The Times, was arrested yesterday.
Crone’s arrest has not been confirmed by police, but News Corp.-owned Sky News and other media are reporting he is the 60-year-old man detained this morning. The arrest is understood to have resulted from News International’s Management and Standards Committee turning over information to the police, The Guardian reports. Crone was head of legal at the now-shuttered News Of The World. He resigned when the scandal blew up in July 2011. He is also a key player since he claims to have warned former News International chairman James Murdoch that phone-hacking at the paper was not limited to “one rogue reporter.” Read More »
It’s expected to amount to the biggest single revelation of alleged phone-hacking victims. Prosecutors are preparing to announce the names of up to 600 people related to a criminal case against former News Of The World staffers. High-profile names already to surface include Jude Law, Sienna Miller, Sadie Frost, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Within weeks, however, the public face of the list will grow, according to The Independent. Expected to come to light are the names of more actors along with pop stars and politicians, the newspaper reports. Police are said to be contacting hundreds of people to let them know.
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Andy Coulson and six other former News Of The World journalists appeared in a London court this morning on phone hacking charges relating to their time at the now defunct paper. The group were given a preliminary hearing … Read More »
Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News Corp‘s News International and a one-time editor of the News Of The World, will face charges in connection with phone-hacking, Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service announced this morning. Andy Coulson, the former News Of The World editor who went on to be Prime Minister David Cameron’s communications director, will also face charges. Along with a group of former News Of The World journalists, they are each charged with “conspiring to intercept communications without lawful authority, from 3rd October 2000 to 9th August 2006. The communications in question are the voicemail messages of well-known people and/or those associated with them,” said the CPS. Those well-known people include Jude Law, Sienna Miller, Sadie Frost, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. In all, there are more than 600 people whom the prosecution will say are victims of the offense. Brooks is specifically facing charges relating to the alleged hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s mobile phone as are a number of the other former journalists. The full list of charges can be read here. In total, eight people learned they would be charged today, while the CPS found insufficient evidence in the case of three other suspects. Decisions regarding two other suspects were deferred.
Related: News Corp Scandal One Year Later: Where Does The Publishing Arm Go From Here? Read More »
Private detective Glenn Mulcaire is not protected under the UK’s equivalent to the Fifth Amendment, the Supreme Court said Wednesday. After a nearly two-year legal battle to avoid such disclosure, Mulcaire will have to turn over possibly self-incriminating evidence, the names of journalists at the News Of The World who allegedly instructed him to intercept voice messages, and how victims were allegedly targeted, according to The Guardian. The ruling stems from a breach of privacy suit brought against Mulcaire by Nicola Phillips, assistant to celebrity publicist Max Clifford. Phillips’ attorney Mark Lewis contends the decision establishes precedent. If so, it could impact the ongoing investigations into phone hacking at the defunct tabloid by potentially uncovering the extent of such practices and who was aware of them. Read More »
Google Wins Copyright Fight Vs. France’s TF1
Google won a round this week when a French court dismissed claims from French television channel TF1 that Google should be liable for TF1 programs that appeared on Google’s YouTube video website. The court ruled that YouTube is a “hosting” service and thus isn’t responsible for filtering videos its users upload for copyright infringement — as long as the website has a system for removing content upon notification by owners. TF1 sought $187.5 million in damages but the court instead ordered TF1 to pay Google $99,000 in legal fees. TF1 is considering whether to appeal.
Universal Intl. Buys ‘Foosball 3D’ for Spain, Latin America
Universal Pictures International has acquired distribution rights in the territories of Latin America and Spain for Oscar-winning Secrets In Their Eyes director Juan Jose Campanella’s new film, Foosball 3D (Metegol/ Futbolin). Animated family movie is about a boy whose table football players come to life and help him defeat a rival and win back his childhood sweetheart. Animation is being supervised by Sergio Pablos (Despicable Me, Rio) and the film is produced by Jorge Estrada Mora’s Jempsa in Argentina, and by Plural-Jempsa and Antena 3 Films in Spain. Foosball 3D is currently in post and will be released next year. Read More »
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 … Read More »
Former News Of The World editor Andy Coulson today said he did not believe in a “grand conspiracy” between News Corp‘s UK press arm, News International, and the UK’s Conservative Party. Coulson, who left the tabloid in 2007 and … Read More »
Rupert Murdoch has sent a letter to employees of News Corp following today’s release of a UK select committee’s findings on phone hacking at News Of The World. Murdoch’s note comes a week after he testified before the Leveson Inquiry into UK ethics and says in part, “We certainly should have acted more quickly and aggressively to uncover wrongdoing.” However, he adds that News Corp’s internal Management and Standards Committee has completed its review of the Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun and has found no illegal conduct “other than a single incident reported months ago, which led to the discipline of the relevant employee.” He also gives a shout-out to his embattled son, noting “News International, at the instigation of James, instituted important governance reforms.” Below is Murdoch’s full letter:
Related: News Corp Responds To UK Report, Calls Out “Partisan” Commentary Read More »
Early in Rupert Murdoch‘s testimony today, he said “Someone took charge of a cover-up which we were victim to and I regret.” He was talking about the phone hacking scandal at the News Of The World on his 2nd day of giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into UK press ethics. Questioned on the cover-up, Murdoch said he thinks it came from inside the newspaper, from a “friend of the journalists, a drinking pal” who was a lawyer “who forbade people to go and report to (Rebekah) Brooks or to James (Murdoch).”
Related: Rupert Murdoch Testimony Day 1 Analysis: News Corp Boss Grilled On Relationships With Politicians, Tweets And BSkyB
Although today’s affair touched on politics and the aborted bid for BSkyB, the proceedings focused more heavily on phone hacking than any of the other days of Murdoch testimony this week. Counsel for the inquiry Robert Jay and Lord Justice Leveson spent a great deal of time trying to work out how high the knowledge of questionable journalistic tactics went at the paper. Leveson pressed Murdoch at one point saying, “Print ink was running through your veins…this wasn’t just a commercial interest…this was the very core of your being, so that’s why you’re being asked: were you not intensely concerned about what was going on?” Murdoch replied that some papers are closer to his heart than others, “but, I also have to say that I failed,” he added. When asked why he closed NOTW rather than “tough it out,” he answered that when the Milly Dowler situation was first given huge publicity, “you could feel the blast coming in the window and I’ll say it succinctly, I panicked.” Read More »