9 Jul 2011

UK scandal closely watched in US

6:03 am on 9 July 2011

The scandal surrounding the News of the World is being closely watched in the United States where media mogul Rupert Murdoch has extensive business interests.

News International is the UK arm of Mr Murdoch's global News Corp empire and publishes four British newspapers: the Times, the Sunday Times, the Sun and the News of the World, as well as the weekly Times Literary Supplement.

The current chief executive of News International is Rebekah Brooks - a former editor of the News of the World.

Although the four publications form a large chunk of the UK newspaper market, the BBC reports they are actually just a small part of the global Murdoch empire.

With an annual revenue of $US31 billion (£19 billion) and assets totalling $US60 billionn, Mr Murdoch's network of businesses form one of the world's largest media conglomerates.

News Corp spans the US, Europe, Australia, Asia and Latin America and owns subsidiaries in film, television, satellite and cable services and publishing.

Within its global newspapers and information services group - which pulled in revenue of $US6.1 billion up to June 2010 - News International actually made a loss of $US126 million.

Among the dozens of media brands owned by News Corp are movie studio 20th Century Fox, Fox TV - including American Idol - and the Asian Star channels.

It has the titles the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and 146 newspapers in Australia, and it also owns HarperCollins book publishers.

In addition, it has large shares in the National Geographic Channel and British Sky Broadcasting.

BSkyB is currently the subject of an official consultation, due to end this week, into whether News Corp should be permitted to buy the 61% of the business it does not already own.

According to the Office of Fair Trading, News Corp's UK newspapers under the News International parent company reach 14.5 million people per week - almost double the number reached by the Daily Mail & General Trust group. BSkyB's Sky TV and radio services reach another 45 million.

The spin-off of Sky News as an independent company has now been made a key condition of News Corp being allowed to take full ownership of BSkyB.