The phone hacking scandal continues to rumble along. The most recent revelation being that the private investigator at the centre of the scandal has the mobile number of Sarah Payne in his files. The Guardian has the bit between it’s teeth and is refusing to let go.
The Sun along with seven other papers has settled out of court with Christopher Jefferies, the landlord of murdered landscape architect Jo Yeates over libel claims.
James Murdoch is to be summoned to appear again in front of the Media Select committee, though the the board of BSkyB has given him its unanimous support. (For Now) The company is now worth $2.6 billion less than it was before the Hacking Scandal really hit it’s stride. Net profits are down 8% Though total subscriptions are up to 10.3 million.
Meanwhile Sky have signed a deal to share coverage of Formula 1 with the BBC from 2012 to 2018, The BBC will screen half the races, focusing on ’key races’ whilst Sky will show all the races. Pirelli are not happy apparently.
Bernie Ecclestone has his own troubles since he is tangled up in a scandal of his own regarding bribery, of Gerhard Gribkowsky, a former senior executive of the German bank Bayern LB, with $44m (£27m) The allegations, suggest that in return Ecclestone received $41.4m in commissions with his family trust taking $25m, under the 2005 deal through which CVC Capital Partners, took control of Formula One.
Ecclesone recently faced a power struggle over re-instating the Bahrain Grand Prix, following it’s earlier cancellation due to troubles associated with the Arab Spring, a struggle he lost, with the race being dropped again.
What I find most interesting about this is partly anecdotal, since the news about Formula One was announced today three different people have had minor rants to me about how there was no way they would be watching formula one on Sky, because they had no wish to line Rupert Murdoch’s pockets.
At least one of those I know left Sky about a year ago, after having a Sky digi-box for 20 years, because the only thing they showed that he wanted to watch anymore were the movies, and it would be way cheaper to buy the DVD’s.
And I have had conversations with various other people who thought that Sky was providing only limited value for money. For myself, I found it hard to accept that Sky had been so closely involved with the three Terry Pratchett adaptations, and they have been the only things from Sky I have watched, since they decided not to buy series two of Jeremiah.
The general consensus among people I have talked to is that where they have Sky it is mostly through habit, and as things stand seem embarrassed that they have a Sky digi-box at all, almost being apologetic about it.
I am left with a sense that both Sky and Formula One (Bernie Ecclestone) are betting on the public having a poor memory. This may well be true, but with the constant drip, drip, of information about the Hacking Scandal, it seems that at present, ‘humbling’ the Murdoch’s and by association BSkyB, is becoming something of a national pastime in the UK at least. I wonder when the rise in subscriptions slowed down radically?
I do find myself wondering if Rebekah Brooks is likely to end up taking the fall? There is a sense that she is now in the firing line as far as the hacking scandal goes, though James is not off the hook yet. Though the support he is receiving from the BskyB board does make me wonder if who was up to what in News international is an ‘open secret’ in the higher echelons of News Corporations and it’s subsidiaries.
This has three implications, firstly: there are an awful lot of people with an awful lot to lose in this particular scandal. Second that because of the financial stakes, ultimately there seems little hope of getting to the truth, or even a reasonable facsimile of the truth.
Thirdly: whilst I don’t have any proof whatsoever I can’t get away from the feeling that the whole of News Corporation is rotten from top to bottom, and that this is not something exculsive to News Corporation. The Ecclestone connection served to remind me that globalisation seems to have led so many prominent figures in business into associations with dodgy dealing, questionable practices, (FIFA leaps to mind) and a seeming sense of ’omnipotence’. With the right PR Campaign, the most expensive lawyers, it seems that the ‘internationalists’, the super rich at least believe they can get away with anything.
What worries me is that they might be right.