Murdoch's 'The Sun' Names Ex-Head of Press Complaints Group Managing Editor

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LONDON – The Sun, the U.K. tabloid paper of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, has appointed a former director of Britain's Press Complaints Commission as its managing editor as regulatory questions continue to overhang the newspaper industry here following the phone-hacking scandal.

The Sun said Monday that Stephen "Stig" Abell will join it as managing editor in September.

After serving as director of the Press Complaints Commission, the U.K. newspaper industry's self regulator that is being disbanded, he most recently worked as a partner at communications consultancy Pagefield. In his work, Abell has provided "support to people and organizations at the center of media storms," The Sun said.

He has also made a name for himself in the industry as a proponent press self-regulation and contributed to the Leveson Inquiry into U.K. press standards and regulation.

Given his background, his appointment was seen as a nod by Murdoch's News Corp that it is committed to avoiding the kind of controversy created by the phone-hacking scandal. But it also signaled its interest in continuing to push for industry self-management over government regulation.

News Corp's News U.K. arm and other British publishers have suggested a new self regulation system for the newspaper industry here, while the government has proposed a royal charter underpinning a self regulator. Critics in the industry have seen this as giving the government power over publishers.

"I know Stig will bring a tremendous amount of energy, talent and commitment to the title," David Dinsmore, editor of The Sun, said Monday. "Press regulation has never been a hotter topic, and it is of huge benefit to have someone of Stig's knowledge and experience on board as we chart a course through choppy waters."

Said Abell: "I am proud to be joining The Sun at this incredibly exciting time. You would have to have been living in a cave over the last few weeks not to notice The Sun, from the coverage of the royal birth to the launch of Sun+," the tabloid's new digital paywall.

Added Abell: "As someone who cares deeply about good journalism - and the future of the newspaper industry - this is an opportunity I could not refuse."

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai

 

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