So did News Corp. have a better day today? In a word, no. Some of the challenges rattling the media empire that Rupert Murdoch built:
• Scotland Yard has notified only 170 of 4,000 suspected victims, according to Sue Akers, deputy assistant commissioner of the London Metropolitan police in charge of the phone hacking scandal, at a hearing today. Akers told a group of MPs she’s taking a "very broad" approach to the inquiry in ‘Operation Weeting,’ which is examining 11,000 pages of material containing the names of the 4,000 possible victims. Murdoch has been called before a parliamentary committee to answer questions on the hacking scandal, according to a BBC report, along with his son James and Rebekah Brooks, the CEO of News International.
• News Corp.'s BSkyB bid is in trouble, with British politicians crossing party lines to support a motion which reads, "The house believes that it is in the public interest for Murdoch and News Corporation to withdraw their bid for BSkyB." Asked if the government expected News Corp to heed parliament, a spokesperson said: "Ultimately, that is a decision for News Corp but we would always expect people to take seriously what parliament has said." The House of Commons is scheduled to vote on it Wednesday, with Prime Minister David Cameron reportedly backing the motion.
• U.K. Labour Party leader Ed Miliband is calling for a judicial inquiry into ‘relations between the media and politicians,’ saying, "There are times when the House of Commons has got to rise to the occasion and speak for the public. "We have said the purchase of BSkyB should not proceed until after the criminal inquiries are complete. The simplest way to achieve this is for the Rupert Murdoch to recognise the feelings of the public and the will of the House of Commons and withdraw this bid. I am calling on parliament to show its will tomorrow." Actor Hugh Grant — a key figure in exposing the phone hacking scandal whose personal brand has risen through his activism — also supports Milliband's call for a full inquiry.
• News Corp.'s stock has dropped a whopping $7 billion in market value over four trading days, with a 7.6% loss in Nasdaq trading Monday, the biggest one-day drop since April 2009, according to Bloomberg. “There’s a lot of noise out there,” said David Bank, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets. “These headlines cause massive swings in sentiment and stock price, leaving a cloud of uncertainty about how deep the allegations go.”
• Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has accused News Corp. execs of paying "known criminals" to steal his personal information, according to his interview with the BBC (which News Corp. executives refuted).
• News Corp. newspaper staffers are also accused of paying off police to assist with cellphone pinging records, to track VIPs and celebrities' whereabouts.
• Murdoch’s 38 year-old son, James, long presumed to inherit the CEO mantle from his octogenarian father, is no longer a given — as speculation mounts that Murdoch Sr. will be forced to step down and held personally accountable.
• Murdoch may have to get out of the new business. Jeff Jarvis, director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, writes that influence and money may win over maintain his media empire. “I think it may be necessary for them to get out of the news business to protect the rest of the company. Does money trump power? I think it does. Right now, this news business is causing problems,” commented Jarvis to Bloomberg.
• Meanwhile, the term “blagging” has emerged as the technique whereby a phone caller impersonates someone to obtain private information such as The Sun’s details of the private medical files of Gordon Brown’s son Fraser, and the Sunday Times acquisition of Brown’s legal records.