NOTW hacking scandal heats up

The furore surrounding the hacking scandal at News of the World has heated up with more advertisers suspending their accounts with the newspaper and political pressure for the government to delay its decision on NewsCorp’s bid to take full control of BSkyB.

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Mitsubishi, Wickes and Npower are the latest brands to suspend their media spend with the News of the World until the outcome of the police investigation into phone hacking at the paper has been announced.

Lance Bradley, Mitsubishi’s UK managing director, says: “Mitsubishi Motors in the UK considers this type of activity – especially in such a distressing case – to be unbelievable, unspeakable and despicable. This is where we draw the line.”

MPs, including Labour leader Ed Miliband, and campaign groups have urged Prime Minister David Cameron to refer NewsCorp’s bid for the not the 61% of BSkyB it does not already own to the Competition Commission, in light of the scandal.

It is expected that culture secretary Jeremy Hunt’s final decision will be delayed until details from the investigation into the News of the World have been made public. The public consultation period into the bid ends today and Hunt was set to make his final decision tomorrow (7 July).

David Cameron said yesterday (6 July) that the phone hacking allegations were a “separate issue” from the regulatory process of looking into the takeover proposal and assessing it against antitrust concerns.

Sky has not made any statement about its advertising account with the News of the World, or whether it will appear in the newspaper this Sunday.

BSkyB’s share price closed at 812.5p yesterday (6 July), down 14.5 points from the previous day’s trading. NewsCorp’s latest Nasdaq share price was $17.94, down 3.24% in the day from its opening price.

Ofcom has also issued a statement that says it could block the deal, despite previously reporting to Jeremy Hunt that the takeover would not pose any threat to competitiveness in the media market.

The media regulator also says it has a “duty to be satisfied on an ongoing basis that the holder of a broadcasting licence is ’fit and proper’”.

The News of the World is now alleged to have hacked into the voicemails of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, the families of murdered Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, relatives of those murdered in the 7 July 2007 London bombings and those killed in action while serving for the armed forces.

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