News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch Calls U.K. Press Regulation Deal A 'Holy Mess'

 

LONDON - News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch on Thursday continued to criticize a U.K. press regulation deal on Twitter and celebrated the defeat of planned new media regulation in Australia.

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"Oz media censorship beaten back," the media mogul said on Twitter before calling a Monday all-party agreement in Britain to establish a new press regulator a "holy mess."

Murdoch then launched an attack on British prime minister David Cameron. "Cameron showing true colors shocking many supporters," he said about the government leader's decision to agree on a royal charter for press regulation with his coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats, and the opposition Labour Party.

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Earlier in the week, Murdoch had in a tweet wondered aloud if a royal charter was the way to go with a new press regulator, arguing that Queen Elizabeth II, who typically rubber-stamps such charters, wasn't interested in playing politics.

News Corp.'s U.K. newspaper unit News International has been exploring its options, including bringing a lawsuit against certain elements of the press regulation charter. It and several other publishing giants have also been mulling the launch of their own regulatory system. The industry has been particularly concerned about a clause that they argue ties the royal charter to broader U.K. law, which critics say amounts to government control of the media.

Meanwhile, News International's The Sun tabloid on Thursday continued its attacks on the Cameron administration with a front-page splash about the government's latest annual budget, which was unveiled Wednesday.

"Have a Proper Gander at this…Budget Coverage as Approved by the Ministry of Truth," its front page headline said. On Tuesday, the paper had first compared the planned new press regulator to the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's "1984."

Thursday's headline was also a reference to London's Evening Standard. The daily evening paper drew criticism Wednesday when an intern accidentally tweeted the paper's front page, including budget details obtained under embargo, before the budget speech.

The Sun's front page highlighted some of the figures in the budget. "Debt! Stands at a Mere 1,152,654,000,000 pounds," it said, among other things. "Work! Wages down 630 pounds…a smidgeon."

Observers said The Sun's turn against the Cameron government could be a signal that the Murdoch paper and its parent company might well withdraw for good the support it gave Cameron during the last elections.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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