Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Leveson Inquiry Finds Collusion Between News Corporation And British Gov't

This Murdoch hacking scandal just keeps building and building.

Here's the latest from today:

LONDON — The long-running tabloid newspaper scandal that has shaken Rupert Murdoch’s global media empire appeared on Tuesday to have reached into the heart of Prime Minister David Cameron’s government, with evidence at a judicial inquiry suggesting that a senior cabinet minister, or at least an aide claiming to speak for him, worked covertly to help win approval for a $12-billion takeover of the BSkyB network, a deal that would have crowned Mr. Murdoch’s 60-year media career.

The disclosures pointing to a hand-in-glove collaboration between Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation and Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt came in a sheaf of e-mails that the inquiry subpoenaed from a Murdoch lobbyist. The lobbyist was pushing for government approval of a News Corporation takeover of the 59 percent stake that that it did not already own in BSkyB, Britain’s leading satellite TV network, a generator of billion-dollar annual profits, and, increasingly, a serious competitor to the BBC.

During the period covered by the e-mails, Mr. Hunt was assigned by Mr. Cameron to take over quasi-judicial powers to approve the takeover. The deal, though, was vehemently opposed by many competing media organizations in Britain and by many others who argued that Mr. Murdoch, with control of publications that had 40 percent of Britain’s total newspaper circulation, already had a degree of influence and power, particularly over politicians, that was unhealthy for Britain, its political system and its market economy.

The e-mails tracked an intense back-and-forth between Frédéric Michel, News Corporation’s chief lobbyist in Britain, and Adam Smith, a political aide in Mr. Hunt’s office. Mr. Smith’s e-mails depict Mr. Hunt as an avid supporter of the BSkyB takeover and ready, in effect, to manipulate the approval process in the Murdochs’ favor, in part by giving Mr. Michel — and through him, James Murdoch — advance notice of government moves affecting the bid.

James Murdoch, in testimony before the Leveson inquiry, insisted there was no collusion, corruption or quid-pro-quo between News Corp. and the Cameron government.

The Guardian covers the political furor this revelation has caused in Britain:

The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, has called for the resignation of the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, over allegations that he set up a private back channel to Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation at a time when he was charged with making a quasi-judicial decision on whether to allow its takeover of BSkyB.

Miliband said the Conservative MP Hunt was "standing up for the interests of the Murdochs" rather than those of the British people, after it was alleged in evidence to the Leveson inquiry that he had provided detailed information to James Murdoch on the state of the bid, as well as the thinking of the media regulator Ofcom.

"He should resign. He himself said that his duty was to be transparent, impartial and fair in the BSkyB takeover. But now we know that he was providing advice, guidance and privileged access to News Corporation. He was acting as a back channel for the Murdochs," Miliband said in a statement.

"He cannot stay in his post. And if he refuses to resign, the prime minister must show some leadership and fire him."

It would be nice if we could a shine a light on the collusion between the Murdochs and politicians in this country - locally, the connection between one Andrew Cuomo, Fred Dicker and Rupert Murdoch.

I suspect the relationship between those three wouldn't be all that different than the relationship the Cameron government seemed to have with the Murdochs.

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