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Phone Hacking Report Raises Questions Over News Corp's Broadcasting Licence

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The culture committee's findings about the failure to uncover the extent of phone hacking at the News of the World raise "serious questions" about whether News Corporation is fit to hold a broadcasting licence, according to campaigners and Labour.

The committee's report, released by MPs on Tuesday, found Rupert Murdoch is "not fit to run a major international company", and the mogul "turned a blind eye" to the phone hacking scandal that brought down News of the World.

Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman said the report on News International and phone-hacking added "urgency" to broadcasting regulator Ofcom's review in a statement on Tuesday.

MORE: Murdoch Is Not Fit To Run Global Empire After Phone Hacking Failures, MPs Say

“The findings of today's Select Committee report add new urgency and importance to Ofcom's current review of whether News Corporation is "fit and proper" to hold a broadcasting licence.

“When you hold a broadcasting licence you are in a position of power and with that must come responsibility. I have no doubt that Ofcom will examine today's findings with the utmost seriousness.”

Ofcom said it was reading the report "with interest".

"Ofcom has a duty under the Broadcasting Acts 1990 and 1996 to be satisfied that any person holding a broadcasting licence is, and remains, fit and proper to do so," the regulator said in a statement.

"Ofcom is continuing to assess the evidence that may assist it in discharging these duties. As part of this we are considering the Committee report.”

Martin Moore, from Hacked Off, which lobbies for press reform, said the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee's conclusions are "devastating" to the reputation of the media giant and the Murdoch family.

"The Select Committee is effectively saying that the most senior figures at News International, either knowingly or by a culpable failure to act properly, covered up illegal activities and sustained intrusion into the private lives of hundreds and hundreds of people.

"These findings cannot help but raise serious questions about the fitness of News Corp to hold a broadcasting licence," he said.

News Corporation said in a statement it was “carefully reviewing” the report and would “respond shortly”, adding: “The company fully acknowledges significant wrongdoing at News of the World and apologises to everyone whose privacy was invaded.”

Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron, deputy leader Simon Hughes and media spokesman Don Foster wrote to media regulator Ofcom last July to urge it to conduct an inquiry into whether News Corp was "fit and proper" to hold a TV licence.

Mr Foster urged the regulator today to complete its review as soon as possible.

He said: "Today's Select Committee report concludes that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.

"Given the significant role he has in the governance of News Corp, this should be an important consideration in Ofcom's determination.

"It's nearly a year since we asked for this review. The public will want Ofcom to conclude its work on this issue as quickly as possible, and I urge them to do so."

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