“There is something rotten in sate of Denmark”: Marcellus said in Hamlet. There are many in Great Britain who must be echoing this sentiment.
The closing of the News Of The World, the arrest of Andrew Coulson, erstwhile editor of NOTW and ex media advisor to the British Prime Minister James Cameron, has landed Britain into a mess of gigantic proportions.
Questions are being thrown around about media ethics, political and police corruption . Within all this clamor, fear of a media takeover of the British skies by Murdoch’s bid to buy BSkyB can also be heard.
Rupert Murdoch owned NOTW, the highest selling weekly of UK , is at the centre of the hacking, tapping and corruption scandal.
Closure of NOTW, with a 168 years old history and present sales going into 2.6 million, is claimed as a firefighting effort by Murdoch to save his bid to buy BskyB.
BSKYB, upping the ante
Due to the fallout, it seems now Murdoch will have to wait some time for his $14 billion to buy the UK satellite company. The decision to consider the sale by the Minsitry of Sports Culture and Media has been deferred. This was due to the huge outcry against the deal by the public.
The shares of BSkyB fell by 6 per cent. BskyB is a lucrative company with its annual revenues running into billions of dollars.Mr Murdoch already has 40 per cent stake in the company and he intends to buy it outright.
With the ownership of BSkyB, the Murdoch empire will have complete control of the internet and satellite channels of Britain. The British media and some politicians are not at all happy with this scenario.
The Root of the Scandal
The second casualty was the arrest of Andrew Coulson, the editor of the newspaper from 2003-2007 and present media advisor to the British Prime Minister. He is held on charges of corruption and hacking. Cameron is scrambling to defend his decision to hire him despite warnings about the happenings at News of the World under his tenure.
News Of the World is in the midst of allegations of having hacked into the emails and phones of numerous royals, celebrities, families of dead army soldiers and that of a schoolgirl, Milly Dowler, who was later found murdered.
The corruption charges include paying bribes to policemen to keep the whole scandal from coming out.
Rebekah Brooks who is the chief executive editor of News International , a close friend of the Prime Minister and a close aide of Rupert Murdoch, seems to have escaped the axe which has left a lot of people unhappy. She was the editor when the phone of the dead schoolgirl, Milly, was tapped into.
Nearly 200 staff members of NOTW are without a job at the moment. There are indications that the drastic step of closing down was also taken as many big advertisers had pulled out of the newspaper after the scandal broke. Some observers believe that NOTW may reappear as the Sunday version of The Sun.
Loss and Compensation
News Corp may also have to shell out nearly $ 1.9 billion in compensation to the 4000 victims of phone tapping and hacking.The share prices of News Corp made a recovery after losing £610 million or nearly $9 billion from their value on Wednesday.
There is a whole nation up in arms against the intrusion of media into their private lives. The Prime Minister is asking for an official inquiry into media ethics. But, there is a deeper malaise of political and media alignments. Just muzzling the media will not be the answer, it is not the only rotten apple in the whole basket. The whole rot has to be stemmed.