James Murdoch: No, we're not a mafia. Yes, the Sun may close.
James Murdoch was grilled by British lawmakers over the News of the World hacking scandal, which forced the tabloid to close earlier this year. He didn't rule out the possibility that the Sun tabloid may also be forced to close.
Media boss James Murdoch – son of global media magnate Rupert Murdoch – was today grilled by British Members of Parliament for a second time over the News of the World (NotW) hacking scandal, which forced the top-selling tabloid to close earlier this year amid allegations of illegal phone hacking.Skip to next paragraph
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At one point during the 2 1/2-hour interrogation by the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, MP Tom Watson accused Murdoch of running a "mafia" style organization.
Looking visibly shocked, Murdoch dismissed the allegation, saying the comments were "offensive."
Murdoch also again denied knowing details of a £425,000 ($675,000) payment to a leading soccer figure and refused to say whether he would close the notorious Sun newspaper if reporters there were found to have hacked phones or e-mails.
Future of the Sun
He was forced on the defensive over the future of the Sun when questioned by MP Steve Rotheram.
Following the arrest of former Sun news editor James Pyatt last Friday for allegedly paying police officers for information, Mr. Rotheram asked Murdoch whether he would close The Sun – or any other paper run by the News International parent company – if evidence of hacking emerged.
Murdoch replied, “I don't think we can rule out any corporate reaction to behavior or wrongdoing.”
Media analyst Claire Enders at the London-based Enders Analysis research firm says she doesn't see that happening in the short term.
“The Sun continues to be very profitable. The phone hacking and subterfuge would have to be on the extent of the News of the World operations for them to consider shutting or selling the paper – but who knows? Ultimately it was the hacking of [abducted teenager] Milly Dowler’s phone which condemned the News of the World, the exodus of advertisers and the realization that the brand had become toxic,” she says.
“James Murdoch is well aware of the lifespan of newspapers, their influence and king-making potential in the political life of Britain – and if they have passed their sell-by date, he will take action," she says. "But I don’t see that in the near future.”