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Rebekah Brooks: Rupert Murdoch Wanted More Serious News, Liked 'X Factor'

Rebekah Brooks
Max Nash/AFP/Getty Images

The former CEO of News Corp.'s U.K. newspaper unit talks about her relationship with the conglomerate's CEO and British politicians.

LONDON - Rebekah Brooks, the former CEO of News Corp.'s News International newspaper unit in the U.K., told a media ethics panel here on Friday that she and conglomerate CEO Rupert Murdoch had similar views "on the big issues," but still had arguments about various topics.

Providing some more insight into the thinking of the News Corp. chairman and CEO, she told the Leveson Inquiry that "I like more celebrity, and he wanted more serious issues" in newspapers. "He thought there was too much [celebrity news], although he liked X Factor." News Corp.'s Fox now airs the Simon Cowell show in the U.S.

Asked why she was interested in entertainment and celebrity news, Brooks said simply looking at TV ratings for news and entertainment shows proved people's interests. "I took from those figures that our readers were interested in it," she said. 

Brooks, who previously had edited News Corp.'s tabloid The Sun, wasn't asked about the company's phone hacking scandal as she is currently under police investigation. The Leveson Inquiry  is probing the relationship of media, politics, police and the public in the U.K.

Asked how often she used to talk to Murdoch, Brooks said "very frequently." But she said there was no regular pattern. "Sometimes, it could be every day," she said. "Sometimes less."

She denied a report that Murdoch and Brooks used to go swimming together when he was in London.

Whose thinking did the Sun reflect, Brooks was also asked. She said it was likely a combination of her thinking, Murdoch's, the paper's political team and readers' views. "They were always reflected," she said about readers' views.

Confronted with Murdoch's recent statement that one could judge his thinking by looking at Sun, she said she didn't think he meant that literally.

Brooks was also asked about her relationship with various politicians, describing her relationship with former Labour Party leader Tony Blair as rather friendly, while she said his successor Gordon Brown had much more limited contact after The Sun came out in support of the Conservative Party.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai