The straw that broke the House of Murdoch may be at hand in the form of a 2008 email James Murdoch acknowledges having received but claims not to have read. The email warned of a “nightmare scenario” facing the Murdoch family's News of the World tabloid because of evidence that more than one reporter had engaged in phone hacking. Throughout the scandal, Murdoch has maintained that he thought it was the work of one rogue reporter until much later. Now, when faced with undeniable evidence he was given information to the contrary much earlier, he claims not to have read that part of the email.
It’s a complicated story but the essence of it is that there was a chain of emails about a phone hacking case being brought against the paper. The New York Times explained:
“The top e-mail in the chain — the one Mr. Murdoch replied to directly — came from the editor of The News of the World at the time, Colin Myler, who wrote that the potential legal fallout from the hacking problem was “as bad as we feared.” Mr. Myler urged Mr. Murdoch to call a meeting promptly to discuss the issue. Mr. Murdoch replied within minutes, saying he could be available that evening or the next day.
The e-mails do not show conclusively that Mr. Murdoch knew more about the extent of hacking than he has said. But they make clear that his subordinates informed him about the potential fallout at the time they were seeking his approval for an unusually large payment of more than $1 million to a victim of hacking. That victim had obtained evidence that the practice was common at The News of the World. “
Murdoch is now in the unenviable position of having to admit to either jaw-dropping incompetence or dishonesty. David Carr, in a separate New York Times article reported that it’s quite possible Murdoch will be arrested.
Further, Carr notes that this is not just a matter of Murdoch’s executive record but the future of the Murdoch family’s control of News Corp., the media conglomerate that owned the now-defunct News of the World tabloid. Comparing Murdoch to Wile E. Coyote spinning his legs even after he’s run off the edge of a cliff, Carr wrote: "Whether in responding to the police, Parliament or the press, Mr. Murdoch is out of sacrificial lambs and now in custody of an ugly-looking set of facts."
Here’s the part to pay special attention to:
SEC. 308. [47 U.S.C. 308] APPLICATIONS FOR LICENSES; CONDITIONS IN LICENSE FOR FOREIGN COMMUNICATION.
(b) All applications for station licenses, or modifications or renewals thereof, shall set forth such facts as the Commission by regulation may prescribe as to the citizenship, character, and financial, technical, and other qualifications of the applicant to operate the station; the ownership and location of the proposed station and of the stations, if any, with which it is proposed to communicate; the frequencies and the power desired to be used; the hours of the day or other periods of time during which it is proposed to operate the station; the purposes for which the station is to be used; and such other information as it may require. The Commission, at any time after the filing of such original application and during the term of any such licenses, may require from an applicant or licensee further written statements of fact to enable it to determine whether such original application should be granted or denied or such license revoked. Such application and/or such statement of fact shall be signed by the applicant and/or licensee in any manner or form, including by electronic means, as the Commission may prescribe by regulation.
(d) SUMMARY OF COMPLAINTS.—Each applicant for the renewal of a commercial or noncommercial television license shall attach as an exhibit to the application a summary of written comments and suggestions received from the public and maintained by the licensee (in accordance with Commission regulations) that comment on the applicant’s programming, if any, and that are characterized by the commentor as constituting violent programming.
There’s no way Murdoch has been keeping his license legally- he’s just been in favour with people in the right position to keep the law out of it. Now that it’s time for some Olympic level deal cutting, those same people are warming up the bus and chances are no one at Newscorp is has anything half as good as they do.