The Guardian reports:
Ed Miliband has demanded the breakup of Rupert Murdoch’s UK media empire in a dramatic intervention in the row over phone hacking.
In an exclusive interview with the Observer, the Labour leader calls for cross-party agreement on new media ownership laws that would cut Murdoch’s current market share, arguing that he has “too much power over British public life”.
Miliband says that the abandonment by News International of its bid for BSkyB, the resignation of its chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, and the closure of the News of the World are insufficient to restore trust and reassure the public.
The Labour leader argues that current media ownership rules are outdated, describing them as “analogue rules for a digital age” that do not take into account the advent of mass digital and satellite broadcasting.
“I think that we’ve got to look at the situation whereby one person can own more than 20% of the newspaper market, the Sky platform and Sky News,” Miliband said. “I think it’s unhealthy because that amount of power in one person’s hands has clearly led to abuses of power within his organisation. If you want to minimise the abuses of power then that kind of concentration of power is frankly quite dangerous.”
Meanwhile, The Independent reports:
The scale of private links between David Cameron and News International was exposed for the first time last night, with the Prime Minister shown to have met Rupert Murdoch’s executives on no fewer than 26 occasions in just over a year since he entered Downing Street.
Rebekah Brooks, who resigned yesterday as chief executive of Mr Murdoch’s Wapping titles over the escalating scandal, is the only person Mr Cameron has invited twice to Chequers, a privilege not extended even to the most senior members of his Cabinet. James Murdoch, News Corp’s chairmanin Europe and the man responsible for pushing through the BSkyB bid, was a guest at the Prime Minister’s official country residence eight months ago. And the former NOTW editor Andy Coulson – who was arrested this week in connection with police corruption and phone hacking – was invited by Mr Cameron to spend a private weekend at Chequers as recently as March
No 10 bowed to pressure over Mr Cameron’s handling of the phone-hacking scandal last night and released details of all his contacts with senior staff at the company since he became Prime Minister. Mr Cameron has held more than twice the number of meetings with Murdoch executives as he has with any other media organisation. There were two “social” meetings between Mr Cameron and Ms Brooks, one of which was also attended by James Murdoch, and in return they invited the Prime Minister to a succession of parties.
Mr Cameron and Ms Brooks, who are neighbours in West Oxfordshire, met over Christmas – including a get-together on Boxing Day – just days after Vince Cable was relieved of responsibility for deciding the fate of News Corp’s BSkyB bid. Downing Street has always refused to discuss what they talked about, but officials insist that the subject of the BSkyB takeover was never raised.
While James Murdoch met Mr Cameron twice over the period, on both occasions he avoided the spotlight of Downing Street. That was not a qualm shared by his father, who was invited to visit Mr Cameron at Downing Street days after the general election.