May 25, 2013
Sun arrests pile pressure on Murdoch media empire
Rupert Murdoch is under pressure over his Sun tabloid after the arrests of several senior staff in a corruption probe, but whistleblowers inside his media empire may pose more of a threat than the public outrage that forced the closure of its sister paper.
Murdoch closed his News of the World weekly after allegations last year it hacked the phone of a murdered schoolgirl prompted a public outcry. Advertisers cancelled contracts and Prime Minister David Cameron set up a inquiry into media practices.
News Corporation boss Murdoch closed the newspaper and flew to London to handle the crisis, which triggered such hostility in Britain's parliament bid that he was forced to give up his bid to take over lucrative pay-TV operator BSkyB.
The veteran media mogul is due to fly to London later this week as another scandal engulfs one of his British newspapers, but he is likely to handle the Sun crisis differently given the public response to the paper's alleged actions is muted.
Police have arrested nine current and former Sun staff in the past two weeks, including the deputy editor and other senior employees, as part of an investigation into the bribing of police and other public officials for information.
The arrests came after News Corp passed information to police, angering employees, some of whom are already briefing against Murdoch.
But while the News of the World (NoW) scandal led to a chorus of condemnation from the public and politicians of all stripes, there has been a low-key response to the Sun arrests.
In a sharp contrast to the mood that prevailed at the height of the NoW scandal last summer, the British minister responsible for the media on Sunday praised Murdoch for increasing British media plurality through his Sky satellite broadcasting network.
"Rupert Murdoch, through the investment he made in Sky for example, has massively increased choice in the UK and given us one of the most competitive broadcasting markets in Europe," Jeremy Hunt told the BBC.
He also praised newspapers, including the News of the World, for uncovering criminals and holding politicians to account.
"People remember how important our newspapers are. I think about the MP (member of parliament) expenses scandal .... People are realising how important a free press is in our democracy," he added.
Last year, Cameron labelled allegations that the News of the World hacked into the phone of murdered school girl Milly Dowler as "really appalling", "truly dreadful" and called for a "vigorous investigation".