07/13/2011 06:49 am ET Updated Sep 12, 2011

Phone Hacking: Rupert Murdoch Thinking Of Selling News International

UPDATE: News Corp has withdrawn its bid for BSkyB, according to multiple reports.


Rupert Murdoch is considering selling off his British newspaper division as a way to extract himself from the hacking scandal and save his company. Meanwhile, the British government fully turned against him and announced an inquiry into the crisis.

A Wednesday report in Murdoch's own Wall Street Journal said that the option of selling News International is one of several that parent company News Corporation is exploring. The Financial Times also reported Tuesday night that the idea is being "discussed." (The idea has been floated in the press for some time.)

According to the Journal, News Corp has discreetly tested the corporate waters to see if any buyers are interested. So far, nobody has seemed willing to buy the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times. This is not hugely surprising; the newspaper market is on a long-term downslide, and two of the three papers are themselves mired in the hacking scandal.

Even if Murdoch rids himself of the papers, it might not be enough to save what is surely his biggest desire: the full takeover of BSkyB. All three main parties are expected to vote for a resolution calling on News Corp to drop the bid entirely--a stunning reversal of fortune for the man who has wielded such power in British politics.

During his weekly appearance before Parliament on Wednesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron called News International's behavior "disgraceful" and said the company should not be thinking about mergers while the hacking scandal continues. Murdoch himself is set to appear before Parliament on Tuesday to answer questions about the scandal.

Cameron also announced the formation of a judge-led inquiry into phone hacking, press regulation, News International itself and police corruption. He said the inquiry will have the power to summon politicians, media figures and police and have them testify under oath. Cameron pointedly emphasized that nobody who is found to have been involved in the scandal should lead a media organization, and said he wanted to bring the "ugly chapter" of the scandal to a close.

The crisis facing News Corp also threatened to cross the Atlantic, as Senator Jay Rockefeller called for an investigation into the company's practices in the U.S. Rockefeller made a statement about the scandal on Tuesday.

"I am concerned that the admitted phone hacking in London by the News Corp. may have extended to 9/11 victims or other Americans," he said. "If they did, the consequences will be severe."


13/07/2011 18:16 BST

@ garethmiller : Gordon Brown may end up getting more public admiration now than during any of the time he was in office, astonishing speech #hacking #NOTW

13/07/2011 18:14 BST

@ psbook : Tory MP @nadhimzahawi claims Rebekah Wade and Elisabeth Murdoch stayed overnight at Chequers

13/07/2011 18:13 BST

@ SkyNewsBreak : Press Complaints Commission issues statement welcoming terms of inquiry into media ethics

13/07/2011 18:13 BST

@ ShippersUnbound : Bercow now introduces 4 minute limit on speeches -- after Brown's 25 minute opus. Biased? Never!

13/07/2011 18:11 BST

Brown Concludes

Gordon Brown said that Cameron had to explain why his media policy was "so similar" to News International's.

A Tory MP, Charlie Elphicke, asked by Brown's government opposed a full criminal investigation of News International. Brown replied that it was opposed by the police and the civil service.

He concluded by calling for a new relationship between the media and the public.

13/07/2011 17:47 BST

Parliament is in a severely rowdy mood. Brown is being constantly heckled with shouts of "sit down" and can barely be heard. Bercow screams "order" so hard it looks like his head might pop.

13/07/2011 17:44 BST

Maisie McCabe says on Twitter: "Just spoken to Ofcom - they are not about to announce anything to do with a fit and proper test. Couldn't explain why Gordon Brown said that."

13/07/2011 17:37 BST

Brown Says Ofcom Investigating News Corp's Remaining BSkyB Holdings On Fit And Proper Grounds

@ davidfolkenflik : EX PM G Brown says UK regulator OfCom will review whether News Corp is "fit and proper" owner of 39% share of BSkyB it currently has.

13/07/2011 17:32 BST

Gordon Brown Speaks In Phone Hacking Debate

Former-PM Gordon Brown says it is "like the old days" for him. "The government on the run, the opposition in pursuit, a headline in the papers saying 'Brown Wrong', another example of the close relationship I have with News International," he says.

Brown says that he has always defended the press and its right "to speak truth to power". But he says "the systematic use of base and unlawful methods" and the hacking of computers as well as phones "on an industrial scale", and some investigators' "links to the criminal underworld", have been rejected by the British public.

He adds there is a "criminal-media nexus" and that News International has descended "from the gutter to the sewers".

Brown has said he is happy to appear in front of the inquiry.

13/07/2011 17:23 BST

Tom Watson has raised a point of order to claim that the prime minister 'misled the house' over Andy Coulson.