Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

U.K. Scandal Worries Broadcaster ; Report That Condemns Murdoch over Phone Hacking Threatens BSkyB

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

U.K. Scandal Worries Broadcaster ; Report That Condemns Murdoch over Phone Hacking Threatens BSkyB

Article excerpt

The chief executive of BSkyB, a British satellite broadcaster, stressed Wednesday that his company was not linked to a phone- hacking scandal at News Corp., the largest investor in the broadcaster.

The satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting, or BSkyB, has sought to distance itself from its largest shareholder -- News Corp., controlled by Rupert Murdoch -- in a sign of the difficulties Mr. Murdoch faces here in the aftermath of a scathing British parliamentary report that declared him not fit to run a global media empire.

"I would emphasize that it's important to remember that Sky and News Corp. are separate companies," Jeremy Darroch, BSkyB's chief executive, told reporters Wednesday. "We believe that Sky's track record as a broadcaster is the most important factor in determining our fitness to hold a license."

The report, released Tuesday by the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport of the British House of Commons, was highly critical of Mr. Murdoch's overall governance and the behavior of several high- ranking employees in his British newspaper unit, News International, in the phone-hacking scandal that erupted in Britain last summer.

While its message was diluted by partisan discord -- the panel's minority Conservatives declined to endorse the characterization of Mr. Murdoch as not fit, while its Labour members and a lone Liberal Democrat voted to include the language -- it nonetheless provided a searing indictment of News Corp. that added to the raft of legal and corporate troubles the company faces in Britain.

In New York on Wednesday, the board of directors of News Corp. met to discuss the committee report and the latest developments in Britain. In a statement, the board expressed its "full confidence in Rupert Murdoch's fitness and support for his continuing to lead" News Corp., praising Mr. Murdoch's "vision and leadership in building" the company and his performance as chairman and chief executive.

But in Britain, the company's problems are far from over. A judicial investigation into journalism practices, the Leveson inquiry, has unearthed endless examples of dubious and unethical behavior by British tabloid newspapers, especially The News of the World, the now-defunct Murdoch-owned paper at the center of the scandal. The panel is continuing to amass evidence and is expected to make its initial report this autumn.

At the same time, about 40 people -- including police officers and editors and reporters at The News of the World and at The Sun, another Murdoch tabloid -- have been arrested in a widening criminal investigation into phone hacking, e-mail hacking, bribing of public officials and tampering with evidence. …

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