February 26, 2020

U.K. Broadcaster Says Murdoch Criticized Hacking Investigators

Since July 2011, Mr. Murdoch’s newspaper outpost in Britain has been under close scrutiny by Parliament, by a separate judicial inquiry and by the police investigating accusations of illicit phone tapping, corruption and other misbehavior, particularly at The News of the World, a now-shuttered Sunday tabloid. Scores of former Murdoch employees have been arrested as the scandal raised questions about hidden ties among the press, the police and the political elite

In the recording, apparently made in March during a meeting with journalists at Mr. Murdoch’s tabloid The Sun, Mr. Murdoch is heard saying: “Still, I mean, it’s a disgrace. Here we are, two years later, and the cops are totally incompetent.”

“The idea that the cops then started coming after you, kick you out of bed, and your families, at six in the morning, is unbelievable,” he said.

Channel 4 News said the recording had been obtained by an investigative Web site called Exaro. The channel said the tone of the remarks seemed markedly at odds with Mr. Murdoch’s public insistence that he felt “humbled” by the hacking scandal.

Mr. Murdoch also referred to a decision by his company’s management and standards committee — referred to in the recording as the MSC — to hand over a trove of e-mails and other material to investigators, a move he described as a mistake.

“Because — it was a mistake, I think. But, in that atmosphere, at that time, we said, ‘Look, we are an open book, we will show you everything.’ And the lawyers just got rich going through millions of e-mails,” he said, promising to support journalists caught up in the investigation.

“I will do everything in my power to give you total support, even if you’re convicted and get six months or whatever,” he said.

“You’re all innocent until proven guilty,” he said. “What you’re asking is: What happens if some of you are proven guilty? What afterward? I’m not allowed to promise you — I will promise you continued health support — but your jobs. I’ve got to be careful what comes out — but, frankly, I won’t say it, but just trust me.”

Mr. Murdoch’s News Corp., based in New York, said in a statement: “No other company has done as much to identify what went wrong, compensate the victims, and ensure the same mistakes do not happen again.”

“The unprecedented cooperation granted by News Corp. was agreed unanimously by senior management and the board, and the MSC continues to cooperate under the supervision of the courts,” the statement said. “Rupert Murdoch has shown understandable empathy with the staff and families affected and will assume they are innocent until and unless proven guilty.”

Tom Watson, an opposition Labour Party legislator who has taken a lead in criticizing of Mr. Murdoch, said he hoped the police would now investigate Mr. Murdoch “about what he did know about criminality in his organization.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/05/world/europe/uk-broadcaster-says-murdoch-criticized-hacking-investigators.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: Tom Mockridge Will Leave News Corp. Unit in Britain

Tom Mockridge, a longtime News Corporation official who served as chief executive of the company’s British newspapers in the aftermath of a phone hacking scandal, will step down.

Mr. Mockridge announced on Sunday that he would leave his post at the end of year. The day before, reports emerged that Robert Thomson, currently the top editor at The Wall Street Journal, was expected to be named chief executive of News Corporation’s planned spinoff publishing company. Mr. Mockridge and Mr. Thomson had long been considered the top candidates for the chief executive job. An announcement about Mr. Thomson’s appointment was widely expected by Monday or Tuesday.

Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, called Mr. Mockridge “a skilled executive and a trusted friend” and said his decision to step down was “absolutely and entirely his own.”

Mr. Mockridge stepped into the role of chief executive of News Corporation’s British publishing unit, News International, last July. He served as a steady hand at a time of corporate crisis. His predecessor as chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, and other top News International executives became the subject of an investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World tabloid.

More recently, Mr. Mockridge has been active in the recently completed Leveson Inquiry into media practices in Britain. Several top lieutenants within the company thought Mr. Mockridge’s time overseeing the company’s embattled British newspaper unit would pay off with his appointment as chief executive to the larger, spun-off publishing company, which will include The Journal, The New York Post and HarperCollins.

Born in New Zealand, Mr. Mockridge joined News Corporation in Australia in 1991. In a news release, News Corporation said he planned to “pursue outside opportunities.”

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/chief-of-news-corp-unit-in-britain-is-resigning/?partner=rss&emc=rss

DealBook: Investor Adviser Urges Ousting Most News Corp. Directors

Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of the News Corporation.Mark Wilson/Getty ImagesRupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of the News Corporation.

8:00 p.m. | Updated

A major investor advisory firm recommended Monday that shareholders of the News Corporation vote against the re-election of a vast majority of the media conglomerate’s board, including Rupert Murdoch and his sons, who control the company.

The firm, Institutional Shareholder Services, wrote in a report that the News Corporation’s incumbent directors, 13 out of 15 board members, failed to prevent the company from stumbling into a morass of corporate troubles.

Chief among these is the phone-hacking scandal in Britain that has led to the arrests of several News Corporation executives, parliamentary hearings and a public apology by Mr. Murdoch.

The scandal flared up in July, when The Guardian newspaper of London reported that reporters for a News Corporation publication, News of the World, had hacked into the voice mails of a 13-year-old murder victim, Milly Dowler. It eventually grew to encompass charges of widespread hacking and illicit bribes paid to British police officers.

The scandal has cost the News Corporation financially. The company eventually closed News of the World after 168 years and scuttled plans to buy control of a major satellite television provider, British Sky Broadcasting, for about $12 billion.

Institutional Shareholder Services wrote that the phone-hacking revelations had exposed “a striking lack of stewardship and failure of independence by a board whose inability to set a strong tone-at-the-top about unethical business practices has now resulted in enormous costs — financial, legal, regulatory, reputational and opportunity — for the shareholders the board ostensibly serves.”

Only two of the News Corporation’s director nominees, Joel I. Klein and the venture capitalist James Breyer, received the advisory firm’s approval, since they have served on the board for only a few months. Mr. Klein, who formerly served as the chancellor of New York City’s public schools, is helping supervise the phone-hacking inquiry.

Firms like Institutional Shareholder Services can hold great sway over public companies’ investors. Many large shareholders often follow proxy advisers’ recommendations.

Still, the firm’s call to arms is largely symbolic, since Mr. Murdoch, the News Corporation’s chairman and chief executive, controls about 40 percent of the company’s voting shares. Prince Walid bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, who owns about 7 percent of News Corp.’s stock, publicly backed the company’s management in July.

Institutional Shareholder Services also took issue with the News Corporation’s executive compensation plans, particularly the near-tripling of Mr. Murdoch’s cash bonus for the 2011 fiscal year to $12.5 million.

It noted that Chase Carey, the News Corporation’s deputy chairman and chief operating officer, received a tax benefit when his contract was renewed, although his base salary was cut in half to $4.05 million.

The firm recommended voting against the executive compensation proposal, although it is only advisory.

As expected, the News Corporation took issue with the recommendations, saying it “strongly disagrees” with them.

“The company takes the issues surrounding News of the World seriously and is working hard to resolve them,” Teri Everett, a company spokeswoman, said in a statement. “However, I.S.S.’s disproportionate focus on these issues is misguided and a disservice to our stockholders. Moreover, I.S.S. failed to consider that the company’s compensation practices reflect its robust performance in FY 2011 driven by its broad, diverse group of businesses across the globe.”

Shares in the News Corporation closed up more than 4 percent on Monday, at $16.97.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=131482804d54c127b83b0b736a83ad74

In E-Books, Publishing Houses Have a Rival in News Sites

Now they have to contend with another group elbowing into their territory: news organizations.

Swiftly and at little cost, newspapers, magazines and sites like The Huffington Post are hunting for revenue by publishing their own version of e-books, either using brand-new content or repurposing material that they may have given away free in the past.

And by making e-books that are usually shorter, cheaper to buy and more quickly produced than the typical book, they are redefining what an e-book is — and who gets to publish it.

On Tuesday, The Huffington Post will release its second e-book, “How We Won,” by Aaron Belkin, the story of the campaign to end the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. It joins e-books recently published by The New Yorker, ABC News, The Boston Globe, Politico and Vanity Fair.

The books occasionally snap up valuable spots on best-seller lists — “Open Secrets,” an e-book published by The New York Times, landed in the No. 19 spot on The Times e-book nonfiction best-seller list in February.

“Surely they’re competing with us,” said Stephen Rubin, the president and publisher of Henry Holt and Company, part of Macmillan. “If I’m doing a book on Rupert Murdoch and four magazines are doing four instant e-books on Rupert Murdoch, then I’m competing with them.”

But as much as news outlets and magazines would like a piece of the e-book market, it remains to be seen whether what they produce can match the breadth and depth of the work produced by traditional publishing houses.

“I’m doing something different than they’re doing,” added Mr. Rubin, who is in fact offering a book on the phone-hacking scandal at News of the World. “I’m going to get the book on Rupert Murdoch that is the definitive book for all time.”

The proliferation of e-readers has helped magazine and newspaper publishers find new platforms for their work, publishing executives said.

“On the one hand, a Kindle or a Nook is perfect for reading a 1,000-page George R. R. Martin novel,” said Eric Simonoff, a literary agent. “On the other hand, these devices are uniquely suited for mid-length content that runs too long for shrinking magazines and are too pamphletlike to credibly be called a book.”

Some publishers have joined forces with news organizations to produce e-books on a faster schedule. Random House, the world’s largest trade publisher, is partnering with Politico to produce a series of four e-books about the 2012 presidential race.

Many of the works sold as e-books are more of a hybrid between a long magazine piece and a serialized book. Each Random House-Politico e-book will be in the range of 20,000 to 30,000 words, and the releases will be spaced out over the course of the campaign.

“We think that the nature of a book is changing,” said Jon Meacham, an executive editor at Random House and a former editor of Newsweek. “The line between articles and books is getting ever fuzzier.”

Part of the appeal is cost. Instead of paying writers hefty advances and then sending them out on the road to report for months at a time, publishers can rely on reporters who are already doing the work as part of their day job. Politico, for example, has assigned Mike Allen, its chief White House correspondent, to write and report with Evan Thomas, a noted political writer. The e-book will be the combination of their efforts. 

“Our cost,” said Mr. Meacham, “is me and Evan.”   

The Huffington Post, which began publishing e-books this month, is not paying its authors advances for their work, but will share profits from the sales.

Some publishers are trying a different approach — one that requires even fewer reporting and writing resources. Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, for example, have created their own e-books by bundling together previously published works surrounding a major news event. 

When the phone-hacking scandal erupted at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation in early July, Vanity Fair collected 20 articles on Mr. Murdoch, his family and their businesses and put them in a $3.99 e-book that went on sale July 29. Graydon Carter, the magazine’s editor, wrote an introduction. The articles were then grouped into six chapters, each with a theme that reflected various aspects of Mr. Murdoch’s life. 

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=79119608db688dd0a60fef62d14e7fc4

Letter Counters Hacking Avowals From News Corp.

The letter, from Clive Goodman, a former News of the World royal correspondent who briefly went to jail in 2007 for intercepting voice mail messages of members of the royal household, is important because it challenges the claim by Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation that until last December it believed that the hacking was limited to one “rogue” reporter — Mr. Goodman — and that it had conclusively investigated the matter. Mr. Goodman sent the letter, including the now-redacted names of others he said knew about the hacking, to the company after he was fired.

The disclosure is a further embarrassment to Prime Minister David Cameron, who has already been ridiculed by his political rivals for his decision to hire a former News of the World editor, Andy Coulson, as his director of communications. Mr. Coulson resigned from the paper during the initial phone hacking imbroglio in 2007 and from his government job in the wake of new evidence early this year. He was arrested last month on suspicion of conspiracy in the phone hacking and of corruption in approving payments to the police for information.

In his letter, Mr. Goodman said that phone hacking was regularly discussed in the paper’s daily news conference “until explicit reference to it was banned by the editor,” presumably meaning Mr. Coulson. Mr. Coulson has always claimed he knew nothing about phone hacking. Mr. Goodman sent the letter containing his accusations to a human resources official at News International and copied it to Les Hinton, then the executive chairman of News International.

Mr. Hinton, a close associate of Mr. Murdoch who went on to become the chairman of Dow Jones after it was bought by the News Corporation, resigned from the company this summer after it became apparent that phone hacking at The News of the World had been endemic during his time at News International. He has always claimed he knew nothing about it. He told Parliament in 2007 that he believed the hacking was limited to Mr. Goodman and a hired investigator.

The scandal has already swept through the upper echelons of Britain’s political, media and law enforcement worlds, resulting in a dozen arrests, the resignations of top officials from the News Corporation and the Metropolitan Police, the withdrawal of the News Corporation’s $12 billion takeover bid for the satellite company BskyB and the summary closing of the 168-year-old News of the World.

None of those arrested in the case have yet been formally charged.

The parliamentary panel, the Commons committee on culture, media and sport, said that in light of Mr. Goodman’s letter and other documents, it would re-call for further questioning at least four former employees of The News of the World. It also said it might re-call Mr. Coulson as well as Rupert Murdoch’s son James, who runs the News Corporation’s European and Asian operations.

Both Murdochs appeared last month before the committee in a dramatic hearing punctuated by a bizarre episode in which a self-described comedian attacked the 80-year-old Rupert Murdoch with a plate of shaving cream, only to be slapped down by Mr. Murdoch’s wife, Wendi.

Meanwhile, other letters written to the committee at its request in the last few weeks — including one from an outside law firm hired briefly to advise The News of the World in 2007, a second from a former editor at the paper and a third from a former lawyer for News International, the British newspaper arm of the News Corporation — all cast doubt on previous assertions by the Murdochs and other company officials.

Ravi Somaiya contributed reporting.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/17/world/europe/17hacking.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Top Tabloid Editors Endorsed Hacking, Letter Says

In light of the new evidence, the panel also announced that it was summoning at least four former News of the World figures for questioning at a hearing next month and could possibly ask Mr. Murdoch’s son James, the head of the Murdoch conglomerate’s European operations, back for more testimony as well. Both father and son testified at a dramatic televised hearing last month.

The disclosures threatened to push the scandal back to the forefront of public concern, raising worrying questions for Mr. Murdoch and for the British prime minister, David Cameron, who hired Andy Coulson, a former News of the World editor, as his director of communications and has been taunted by the opposition for poor judgment in doing so.

Tom Watson, a Labour lawmaker and member of the panel, also said Mr. Coulson may be among those summoned to give further evidence.

The newest allegations are contained in a four-year-old letter released for the first time from Clive Goodman, the News of the World’s former royal correspondent who served a jail term for hacking the mobile phones of members of the royal family, to a senior human resources executive who had informed him that he was being dismissed.

In addition to the Goodman letter, the parliamentary panel released a letter from Harbottle Lewis, a law firm hired by the Murdochs, which they have repeatedly cited as having given the News of the World a “clean bill of health” in reviewing a cache of e-mails in 2007. The law firm’s letter contradicts that assertion and says that its own investigation had been limited strictly to advising the company in its employment dispute with Mr. Goodman.

The scandal has already spread through Britain’s public life and media world. Mr. Coulson quit his job with the prime minister in January as the hacking scandal spread. Rupert Murdoch closed down the 168-year-old News of the World after the scandal exploded last month with reports that the newspaper had ordered the hacking of the cellphone of an abducted 13-year-old schoolgirl, Milly Dowler, who was found murdered in 2002.

The correspondence, made public by the House of Commons select committee on culture, media and sport, is likely to embarrass former senior officials in the Murdoch empire who denied that phone hacking was widely practiced.

When both Rupert and James Murdoch testified at the committee hearing last month they said they were appalled by the hacking, in dramatic appearances punctuated by a bizarre episode when a prankster attacked the older Mr. Murdoch with a foam pie.

In Mr. Goodman’s letter, dated March 2, 2007, Mr. Goodman challenged his dismissal, saying that his actions “were carried out with the full knowledge and support” of other senior journalists. He also said another senior journalist arranged for payments to a private investigator who carried out the hacking.

Mr. Goodman also asserted in his letter that the practice of phone hacking was “widely discussed in the daily editorial conference” at the newspaper until “explicit reference to it was banned by the editor.”

Mr. Watson said the committee had seen two versions of the letter, one more heavily redacted than the other. One version sent to the committee by News International, the British newspaper subsidiary of the Murdoch family’s News Corporation, had been redacted to black out references to “editorial conference” and “the editor.”

The News of the World had long insisted that the phone hacking was restricted to Mr. Goodman, a single rogue reporter.

But Mr. Watson said the letter offered a “devastating” rebuttal to Mr. Coulson, the former editor and prime ministerial aide, who has always denied knowledge of the phone hacking. Mr. Watson said it was now “likely” that the panel would recall both James Murdoch and Mr. Coulson.

“We have written to Andy Coulson to ask him whether he would like to amend his previous evidence,” Mr. Watson said. “Clearly if Clive Goodman’s account is accurate, it shows the evidence he gave us was at best misleading and probably deceptive.”

Mr. Goodman, the former royal reporter, also claimed that he had been promised his job back after serving a four-month prison term starting in January 2007.

He wrote that Mr. Coulson and Tom Crone, the newspaper’s senior legal counsel, had “promised on many occasions that I could come back to a job at the newspaper if I did not implicate the paper or any of its staff in my mitigation plea. I did not, and I expect the paper to honor its promise to me.”

News International said through a spokesman that it “recognized the seriousness” of the material disclosed to the police and Parliament and was committed to working in a “constructive and open way” with all the relevant authorities.

The parliamentary committee said that on Sept. 6 it would recall Mr. Crone, as well as the News of the World’s former editor Colin Myer, the News International human resources director, Daniel Cloke, and its former legal director, John Chapman.

The committee also said that “depending on their evidence under questioning, the committee may also have further questions for James Murdoch and others.”

Sarah Lyall and Ravi Somaiya reported from London and Alan Cowell from Paris.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/17/world/europe/17hacking.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Comedy Podcast Inside News Corp. Feasts on a Scandal

The Bugle, a news satire podcast, had just recorded a blistering show about the closing of The News of the World tabloid, and now he had to edit the less-than-kind audio that included riffs on the soullessness of those responsible and the opinion that the paper “would not be missed at all.”

The Bugle is published by The Times of London, also owned by Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation.

“It was comedian’s gold, but an editor’s nightmare,” he remembered.

As some Murdoch-owned media properties chose to minimize the unfolding scandal, Mr. Skinner and the pair of comedians behind the podcast, Andy Zaltzman and John Oliver, went straight for the jugular. The Bugle, among the most popular comedy podcasts in Britain with roughly 400,000 weekly downloads, spent three weeks hammering their corporate owners, News International, and Mr. Murdoch himself.

Mr. Zaltzman compared the scene outside The Times of London’s recording studio in Wapping to war-ravaged Stalingrad and Nagasaki, described The Bugle “the last remaining pillar of Murdochia” and reveled in both the firing of Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International, and the shaving cream pie that had struck Mr. Murdoch.

For Mr. Zaltzman, 36, the decision to go hard on News International was a natural for the four-year-old weekly podcast that takes on the main news of the day with the least reverence possible. “It was a news story that we had to address — and address it funnily — and I think we succeeded,” he said in a phone interview.

The show has recently found a surge of interest from the United States, owing in part to Mr. Oliver’s frequent appearances on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.” The number of downloads has nearly doubled in the last 18 months, according to rough statistics provided by Mr. Skinner, with much of the increase coming from American listeners. It is currently ranked among the top podcasts on iTunes.

The Bugle began in October 2007 shortly after Mr. Oliver, 34, moved to New York. The two comedians, who had worked together onstage in Britain and whose comedy closely follows the news, were approached by The Times of London to do a satire podcast.

“It took a while for us to find the best way to do it,” said Mr. Zaltzman. “But once it fell into the pattern it’s in, it’s stayed.”

Each show is a combination of scripted material and ad libs and is recorded and published on Fridays, with Mr. Zaltzman and Mr. Skinner sitting in the London studio, and Mr. Oliver joining by phone from New York.

The comedians write their jokes after briefly discussing the topics for the next program, but generally have not heard each other’s material until recording time. Spontaneous trans-Atlantic cackling is a large part of the appeal, for them and for the listener. “We try and make each other laugh while we’re recording it,” Mr. Zaltzman said.

As with most popular online productions, the show has spawned legions of loyal fans — known as Buglers — who have developed their own profane insider gags — like sending Mr. Skinner e-mail and Twitter messages telling him off — and even a Wikipedia-style site devoted to cataloging the show. (The official Web site is behind the newspaper’s paywall.)

The show follows a long tradition of British news satire from “That Was the Week That Was” in the early 1960s, to the 1990s radio show “On the Hour,” which Mr. Zaltzman said was among his inspirations.

Pairing a comedian with a newspaper to make a podcast is a newer phenomenon, beginning most notably with Ricky Gervais and The Guardian in 2005. Mr. Zaltzman also comes from a podcasting family: his sister, Helen Zaltzman, appears on another popular British comedy show, “Answer Me This!

“What podcasting does is give acts who want to get into the mainstream media a platform to prove their talents,” said Richard Berry, a lecturer in radio at the University of Sunderland who has written about podcasting. “It can bring radio talent or writers the same opportunities that YouTube gives filmmakers.”

It was the freedom to do what they wanted that drew Mr. Zaltzman and Mr. Oliver to making the show. “There’s not been any guidance or request from the Times Online hierarchy about what we can and can’t say,” Mr. Zaltzman said.

With new hacking-scandal developments each week, the show appeared to push the boundary of that freedom, especially after a man hit Mr. Murdoch with a plate of shaving cream during a Parliamentary inquiry.

“I’m not saying Rupert Murdoch’s face didn’t look better with a shaving cream pie in it,” Mr. Oliver said during one episode. “You just don’t want to find yourself with any misplaced sympathy for Rupert Murdoch.”

The two then jokingly wondered on air whether anyone higher up at News International was listening. “Should this not have been stopped by now?” Mr. Oliver asked. “It doesn’t make sense!”

“I can take up busking, John, it’s all right,” Mr. Zaltzman responded.

But no one from the company has complained, Mr. Skinner and Mr. Zaltzman said, and the show goes on. After a break last week, the podcast returned on Friday to tackle the most recent devastating events from Britain: the London riots.

They have had a front-row seat at that as well. “Last night was a very scary journey home,” said Mr. Skinner, 32, who lives in the Hackney neighborhood of London where rioters rampaged last Monday.

Newsrooms in the late summer are generally quiet places. But this year, the big events have been coming steadily. “It’s a bit of a summer of rage in the U.K.,” Mr. Skinner said. “We seem to be bouncing from one story of anger into another.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=7d1d16f28837b66fb8aa9174181c4ea7

Television: British Reporters, Not Ad Men, in ’50s, Not ’60s

When “The Hour” had its premiere here on BBC2 last month (it has its BBC America premiere Wednesday at 10 p.m.), “Mad Men” comparisons abounded despite some crucial differences. For all the shadowy after-hours nightclubs and tight sheath dresses, the show’s backdrop isn’t as shiny as the Manhattan of “Mad Men,” set less than a decade later. It’s cold, wet London two years after the end of rationing, a city still struggling to regain its footing after the bombings of World War II.

Yet “The Hour” may remind American viewers of nothing so much as our own age. Several scenes seem to anticipate the News of the World phone hacking scandal, like when Freddie bribes a policeman to let him examine a body at the morgue, and the phones of reporters are tapped by government agents (even though it was journalists doing the listening-in at News of the World).

The recent revelations about News of the World and the hacking of cellphones owned by, among others, a murder victim hadn’t yet surfaced by the time “The Hour” went into production. But one of its executive producers, Derek Wax, acknowledged that the current scandal had given the show a sense of immediacy.

“It does seem very pertinent now,” Mr. Wax said last month at a Television Critics Association gathering, noting that the show touches on current issues like the collusion between politicians and journalists, and “who you have lunch with one day and how stories are leaked.” He added, “We are very much in 1956, but at times you feel that nothing’s really changed.” (A second season, if approved, would address the Notting Hill race riot of 1958.)

Of course times have changed dramatically for women. Abi Morgan, who wrote and created “The Hour,” said that while researching the project she discovered that if you were one of the few women employed by the BBC in postwar London, you were most likely a telephone-answering, tea-carrying secretary. “I think America was a bit ahead of us in that regard,” Ms. Morgan said. “There were a lot more women in the workplace in America than in Britain.” Throughout most of the series Bel is so outnumbered that when men unapologetically disparage women in front of her, nothing — no resentment, no frustration — ever registers on her pale face.

When asked if this was an acting choice, Ms. Garai, speaking in her agent’s office in central London, said that her Bel wouldn’t have expected to be treated as an equal. “I mean, misogyny would not have been misogyny at that time. It wouldn’t have been exceptional. It would have been life.”

To prepare for the role Ms. Garai studied up on Grace Wyndham Goldie, a British news pioneer. Ms. Goldie, a radio critic who didn’t begin her television career until her late 40s, was the producer most famously associated with the success of BBC programs like “Tonight” and “Panorama,” which broke ground by covering current affairs as they happened, thus ignoring the “14-day rule,” which dictated that the BBC not report on issues that were to be debated in Parliament within two weeks.

“She was absolutely at the forefront of that movement, and she was totally alone,” Ms. Garai said. “She was like any woman who had to operate in that climate. She was intimidating, formidable. Definitely a woman with the emphasis on ‘man.’ ” (In “The Hour” Bel is a woman in her 20s who wears figure-hugging dresses, bright-red lipstick and smokes cigarettes as elegantly as Myrna Loy in a “Thin Man” movie.)

Before it was broadcast, some British news outlets had positioned the series as the country’s glossy answer to “Mad Men.” But when the executive producer Jane Featherstone, president of Kudos Film and Television (“MI5,” “Life on Mars”), first commissioned Ms. Morgan to create a series about a time when the BBC stopped broadcasting government-sanctioned newsreels and focused on investigative news, Ms. Featherstone was thinking of a political thriller involving television reporters and the Suez Canal crisis of 1956.

“In British terms that was the end of our empire, the moment that Britain really gave up its position as a global player,” Ms. Featherstone explained, adding that only 12 hours passed before Ms. Morgan returned with an outline for a series that included espionage, lots of drinking and the mysterious suicide of a beautiful socialite who Freddie insists has been murdered. When Bel falls for her lead anchor, a smooth-voiced beefcake named Hector Madden (Dominic West), viewers will instantly know that Ms. Morgan also took a page from “Broadcast News,” James L. Brooks’s 1987 romantic comedy about love, longing and unchecked journalistic ambition. What? No “Mad Men”?

“What they share is some fashion and some lampshades,” Ms. Featherstone said, trying to hide the “Can we drop the ‘Mad Men’ comparisons?” weariness in her voice. Then she confessed to her own micro-campaign to distinguish the two by “going around slightly smugly correcting everybody: ‘It’s not the same decade! This is 1956, and those are the ’60s!’ ” She added, “In terms of pace and tone you can see they’re miles and miles apart.”

There are those, of course, who will tune in thinking they might get their Jimmy McNulty fix, that is, the boozing, authority-defying police detective that Mr. West played on the HBO series “The Wire,” which ended in 2008 Stateside and was a huge hit in Britain. Speaking by phone, Mr. West wondered about what this segment of the viewing public would think of him as the posh Hector Madden, wearing hand-tailored suits, sporting a dapper side part in his curly hair and enunciating every British-inflected syllable. “ ‘Wire’ fans, they’re hoping for hard-bitten Baltimore, and they get very received-pronunciation English,” said Mr. West, who seems unable to get the word out that he was educated at Eton. “There’s always a sense of deflation in a room when I go in and they hear me speak.”

Here in Britain there is one viewer excited that Mr. West has dropped his disheveled cop routine and inhabited the character of an anchorman who rivals James Bond when it comes to careful grooming. “My wife was just in heaven,” Mr. West said. “I always say: ‘There’s nothing I can do about it. I’m at the mercy of whatever job I’m doing.’ And she said: ‘Finally. You get a decent haircut.’ ”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=757bb4edaa2fa6393ed5ae7bf0da4a67

Pressure on James Murdoch Is About to Intensify

LONDON — After his testimony in Parliament was challenged by two former senior employees and referred by a lawmaker to Scotland Yard for investigation, James Murdoch has come under rising pressure in Britain’s phone hacking scandal that is likely to intensify this week.

The board of British Sky Broadcasting, the satellite broadcaster of which Mr. Murdoch is chairman, convenes on Thursday for the first time since the scandal erupted, as regulators continue their inquiry into whether the hacking scandal means the broadcaster should continue to be considered “fit and proper” to hold a broadcasting license. A day later, members of the parliamentary committee investigating the scandal are to meet to consider whether to ask for more information from Mr. Murdoch and whether to call him and former executives back in front of them to answer additional questions.

Some former senior executives of News International who until recently held powerful positions in the News Corporation’s British subsidiary and were privy to internal deliberations have indicated that they believe Mr. Murdoch knew more about widespread phone hacking at The News of the World than he indicated in his public testimony. If they continue to challenge Mr. Murdoch’s account, it could damage his effort to protect his own reputation and that of the parent company run by his father, Rupert.

“It now seems to be everyone for themselves,” said Paul Farrelly, a Labour member of Parliament who has been a prominent critic of News International. “The edifice is cracking; they’re all fighting like rats in a sack.”

Last week, the two former executives, Colin Myler, who was editor of The News of the World until it closed this month, and Tom Crone, the former legal manager for News International, accused him of making “mistaken” statements to Parliament in his testimony on Tuesday.

A third, Jon Chapman, News International’s director of legal affairs until this month, said in a statement last week he was also preparing to cooperate fully with the Parliament investigation and wanted to correct “serious inaccuracies” in the evidence given by Mr. Murdoch to lawmakers. Mr. Murdoch issued a statement insisting he stood by his remarks.

Mr. Murdoch could also face a challenge from another source, according to several lawyers and executives with knowledge of the proceedings. The source is an outside attorney who was also privy to discussions surrounding a confidential settlement to a phone hacking victim in 2008, which Mr. Murdoch approved, according to several lawyers with knowledge of the proceedings.

Mr. Murdoch said he had relied on “outside counsel” in settling that case.

One of the lawyers providing outside counsel was Julian Pike, a partner of the London firm Farrer Company, the queen’s lawyers. Mr. Pike, who is on sabbatical until Sept. 5, was at times directly engaged in discussions with the lawyers for the soccer union leader Gordon Taylor, who was the first victim of phone hacking to sue News International, the lawyers and executives said.

File notes that Mr. Pike took of his internal discussions with News International executives during 2008 could be pursued by Scotland Yard as part of a criminal inquiry, said two officials with knowledge of the police inquiry.

“So far, it’s two against one,” said a lawyer with first-hand knowledge of the proceedings who spoke on the condition of anonymity, referring to Mr. Crone’s and Mr. Myler’s word about the negotiations against Mr. Murdoch. “But if two more lawyers step forward to contradict Mr. Murdoch’s evidence, it would raise even more profound questions.”

Mr. Pike and several of his assistants did not return repeated messages asking for comment. News International would not comment on whether it was prepared to lift client confidentiality restrictions on Mr. Pike or Farrer Company, as it has with another outside law firm used, so they could speak to the police and Parliament.

Mr. Murdoch told the committee that he relied on the advice of “outside counsel” when he agreed to settle the case brought by Mr. Taylor for £725,000, which was then about $1.4 million, a settlement that was far beyond what privacy violation cases were being settled for at the time. Most were being settled for £3,000 to £12,000, lawyers with knowledge of such cases said.

In Mr. Taylor’s case, The News of the World did not even publish a story about him based on the information gleaned from hacked messages, lawyers have said.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/25/world/europe/25hacking.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Brooks Quits and Murdoch Apologizes to Slain Girl’s Kin

Her departure began a day of stepped-up damage control by Mr. Murdoch, the chairman of News Corporation, who on Friday released a copy of an apologetic note to be published in all British newspapers over the weekend. He also visited the family of a murdered 13-year-old girl, Milly Dowler, whose voice mail was hacked by reporters at The News of the World while she was still listed as missing.

According to the Dowler family’s lawyer, Mark Lewis, Mr. Murdoch offered a sincere apology for the actions of his employees, who deleted phone messages after the girl’s mailbox had been filled, so they could collect more messages from concerned family members.

Mr. Lewis said that Mr. Murdoch apologized “many times,” The Associated Press reported, and that he was “very humbled, he was very shaken and he was very sincere.”

The Dowler episode shocked many Britons and set off other disclosures of hacking into the phones of terrorism victims. Ms. Brooks was editor of The News of the World at the time.

The public apologies seemed to follow News Corporation’s acknowledgment that it had hired the public relations firm Edelman to handle the crisis. It appeared to reflect a strategy to tamp down a scandal that has already forced the closing of The News of the World, a tabloid, and the collapse of a $12 billion bid to assume full control of Britain’s biggest satellite broadcaster.

The head of crisis management at the firm, Mike Seymour, declined to comment on any work for Mr. Murdoch’s company, saying “I’m sure you understand.”

In the advertisement, Mr. Murdoch apologizes for “the serious wrongdoing that occurred” at News International, the British subsidiary of News Corporattion, and “the hurt suffered by the individuals affected.” British news media on Friday published the text and images of the ad, which is signed by Rupert Murdoch alone and begins in large type: “We are sorry.”

“We regret not acting faster to sort things out,” the ad reads in part. “I realize that simply apologizing is not enough. In the coming days, as we take further concrete steps to resolve these issues and make amends for the damage they have caused, you will hear more from us.”

Rupert and James Murdoch said on Thursday that they would testify next week before a parliamentary panel investigating the scandal, abandoning earlier efforts to avoid or put off appearing before the panel. Ms. Brooks said on Friday that she still intended to attend the hearing despite her stepping down from her post as chief executive of News International.

Ms. Brooks’s resignation came less than 12 hours after the broadcast of a BBC interview with News Corporation’s second-largest investor, a billionaire Saudi prince, who said that if Ms. Brooks had known of the misconduct at The News of the World, then “you bet she has to go.”

“Ethics to me are very important,” said the prince, Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. “I will not deal with a lady or a man that has any sliver of doubt on her or his integrity.”

Until the scandal erupted, Ms. Brooks, 43, had been a star within News International, editing two influential tabloids and rising rapidly to head the division. British analysts described her as enjoying the status of a favored daughter, with close ties not only to the Murdoch family but also to leading politicians.

But her resignation had seemed ever more likely as the police arrested some of her former colleagues, leading politicians demanded her resignation, News Corporation’s stock took a pounding and major investors, like the Saudi prince, voiced concern.

Ms. Brooks, who has denied that she knew of the phone hacking while she was editor of The News of the World, said in an e-mail to her staff: “My desire to remain on the bridge has made me a focal point of the debate. This is now detracting attention from all our honest endeavors to fix the problems of the past. Therefore I have given Rupert and James Murdoch my resignation. While it has been a subject of discussion, this time my resignation has been accepted.”

She was replaced by Tom Mockridge, the head of Sky Italia, News Corporation’s Italian satellite broadcaster.

John F. Burns reported from London, and Alan Cowell from Paris. Ravi Somaiya contributed reporting from London.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/16/world/europe/16hacking.html?partner=rss&emc=rss