Rupert Murdoch Agrees to Return to U.K. Parliament to Explain Secret Recording

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LONDON -- News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch will be asked by the Media Select Committee of the British parliament's House of Commons to return for further questions after last week's emergence of secretly recorded comments he made about bribes in the British newspaper industry and the phone-hacking probes.

It emerged Tuesday that the committee was preparing to send a letter to the media mogul to ask him to provide further evidence following publication of his taped comments by British website Exaro and Channel 4.

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The committee plans to ask him to clarify his comments on the tape and in front of the committee in the past, particularly whether he had knowledge of bribes by staff of his tabloid The Sun before formal accusations. Some observers interpreted his comments to Sun staff that he had been wrong to help the police probes into illegal tactics, arguing the industry had used bribes for decades. His company has said he only tried to connect with staff and wasn't aware of any wrongdoing at the firm.

In front of the parliamentary committee, he had in 2011 apologized for any wrongdoing by his company's U.K. newspaper arm and said the appearance was the "most humble day" of his life.

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Committee chairman John Whittingdale has not yet set a date for the hearing, he told the BBC, with observers expecting it to occur in the fall.

"Mr. Murdoch welcomes the opportunity to return to the select committee and answer their questions," a spokesman for News Corp's British newspaper unit News UK, formerly known as News International, said late Tuesday. "He looks forward to clearing up any misconceptions as soon as possible.”

Analysts said that the attention that the secret tape has been receiving and Murdoch's return to parliament wouldn't have an immediate impact on News Corp and 21st Century Fox, as well as U.K. pay TV giant BSkyB, in which the latter owns a 39 percent stake. One analyst highlighted though that some on Wall Street have predicted that 21st Century Fox could down the line make another play for full control of BSkyB - a possible move that could get delayed. Murdoch dropped such an attempt a couple of years ago amid the phone-hacking scandal. 

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

 

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