How to jeopardise a deal – the News Corp way

So you spend over a year chasing down the remaining 60% of BSkyB, alienating your fellow media companies even more than normal, waiting on a sceptical and under-pressure government to allow your deal to proceed and then what happens...

One of your major subsidiaries, publisher of one of the UK’s longest established newspapers, the News of the World, is further exposed as having crossed the lines of decency in terms of how it sources its stories.

Many people would argue that ‘celebrities’ (and I use the term in an all-inclusive manner) are fair game – although hacking into their email and voicemail is extreme no matter the level of celebrity status.

But the boundaries are considered to have been well and truly crossed now it has been suggested that the News of the World hacked into email and voicemail of soldiers killed in Afghanistan, murder victims and victims of terrorist activities.

The Murdochs have reacted with typical ruthlessness – in that yesterday evening they announced that the paper would cease to be published after this Sunday’s edition. There don’t seem to be many choices; advertisers were deserting in their droves and there is little doubt that the readers’ appetite for the paper would have waned, most certainly in the short term.

Media sceptics are already implying that this action is more about trying to salvage the BSkyB deal. It is being reported that as a result of the scandal around the News of the World, the government will delay its decision on whether to allow the deal to proceed.

Rupert Murdoch is a man used to getting what he wants; this might be the one occasion where even his own ruthlessness might not save him.