NEWS CORPORATION HAS withdrawn its multi-billion pound bid for the satellite broadcaster BSkyB following the controversy surrounding the allegations that newspapers owned by its proprietor Rupert Murdoch were involved in phone hacking.
Earlier the UK prime minister David Cameron called on Murdoch’s company to halt its attempt to gain control of the broadcaster by purchasing the 61 per cent of shares it does not own at present.
Cameron called on News Corporation and its subsidiary News International to concentrate on sorting out its problems, ahead of a House of Commons vote that was expected to attract cross-party support for a motion calling on the bid to be withdrawn although this would not have been legally binding.
“We believed that the proposed acquisition of BSkyB by News Corporation would benefit both companies, but it has become clear that it is too difficult to progress in this climate,” News Corp’s Chase Carey said in a statement carried on BBC News.
Sky News city editor Mark Kleinman says that News Corp intends to remain a long-term shareholder in BSkyB but cites a source in the company as saying that the bid for BSkyB had become “too politicised”.
A spokesman for the prime minister said that his office welcomed the decision and that News Corp now needed to get its house in order.
Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, who had tabled a motion calling on News Corp to withdraw its bid said it was: “A victory for people up and down this country who have been appalled by the phone hacking scandal.”
Over the last ten days, allegations have emerged that the Murdoch owned News of the World newspaper hacked into the voicemails of murder victims and their families including that of Milly Dowler, a schoolgirl murdered nearly ten years ago in a high-profile case in which her murderer was only recently convicted.
News International responded last week by shutting down the News of the World which published its final issue last Sunday.
However, new allegations have emerged that people working for the company were also involved in obtaining personal and private information relating to former UK prime minister Gordon Brown.
The Sun newspaper today sought to refute some of the allegations saying that a story it published about Brown’s son suffering from cystic fibrosis came from a legitimate source.
Fresh allegations have also emerged that private investigators working for the newspaper hacked into the voicemails of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC.
Earlier today, David Cameron announced a two-pronged inquiry into the hacking scandal which would in the first instance look at the culture, practices, and ethics of the press, including its dealings with politicians and the police.
The second part of the inquiry will look at the extent of unlawful or improper conduct within News International and other newspaper organisations.
In a related development, News International’s legal manager Tom Crone was reported by the Guardian to be leaving the company, the latest executive to step down since the scandal broke.