Nick Davies, The Guardian:
One of Rupert Murdoch’s most senior European executives has resigned following Guardian inquiries about a circulation scam at News Corporation’s flagship newspaper, the Wall Street Journal.
The Guardian found evidence that the Journal had been channelling money through European companies in order to secretly buy thousands of copies of its own paper at a knock-down rate, misleading readers and advertisers about the Journal’s true circulation.
The bizarre scheme included a formal, written contract in which the Journal persuaded one company to co-operate by agreeing to publish articles that promoted its activities, a move which led some staff to accuse the paper’s management of violating journalistic ethics and jeopardising its treasured reputation for editorial quality.
Internal emails and documents suggest the scam was promoted by Andrew Langhoff, the European managing director of the Journal’s parent company, Dow Jones and Co, which was bought by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation in July 2007. Langhoff resigned on Tuesday.
The highly controversial activities were organised in London and focused on the Journal’s European edition, which circulates in the EU, Russia, and Africa. Senior executives in New York, including Murdoch’s right-hand man, Les Hinton, were alerted to the problems last year by an internal whistleblower and apparently chose to take no action. The whistleblower was then made redundant.
Gemma Daley and Robert Fenner, Bloomberg:
Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph, the best-selling daily newspaper in Australia’s largest city of Sydney, is “running a campaign on regime change,” according to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy. Gillard herself demanded and got a retraction and apology from the Australian, another daily owned by the billionaire’s News Corp. (NWSA), after it printed a falsehood. She said the Daily Telegraph should enter another report “for one of our fiction prizes.”
“It’s not surprising at all that Murdoch is at it again in Australia while the U.K. phone-hacking scandal is still fresh,” said Tim Bale, a professor of politics at the University of Sussex and the author of “The Conservative Party: From Thatcher to Cameron.” “He tries to use his economic power to get political influence. It’s part of his business model.” …
Gillard’s approval rating plunged to 23 percent, down 6 percentage points in two weeks, in a survey by Australia’s Newspoll organization published Sept. 6 in the Australian. That was the lowest for a prime minister since 22 percent for Paul Keating in 1993.