News of the World: Something had to give
- 7 July 2011
- From the section UK Politics
It was clear that something had to give but I had assumed that something would be the chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks.
Rupert Murdoch has, instead, sacrificed the News of the World - or, at least, its title. I assume he will produce another Sunday paper - perhaps, as Robert Peston has suggested on his blog, The Sunday Sun.
Team Murdoch must have realised that the name News of the World would be referred to again and again over the next few months in connection with the alleged phone-hacking of a murdered girl, grieving parents and war widows.
The question now is whether this will make the government's dilemma about the takeover of BSkyB easier or harder?
My guess is that the Murdochs have sacrificed the News of the World in order to salvage their television ambitions.
They want to expand in Germany, Italy, India and, of course, here in Britain too.
Newspapers represent only 13% of News Corps worldwide revenue, I'm told.
So, ministers may be able to delay the final decision on whether to approve the takeover - by allowing lots of time for officials at the culture department and Ofcom to go through public submissions - but, in the end, they are still likely to have to face it.
Murdoch's enemies will want this to be the beginning of the end for him. He is sure to see it as a new beginning.
The nightmare for David Cameron and his government is that he will be tainted by the past - thanks to his hiring of Andy Coulson - and be responsible for the future.
The fates of the prime minister and Britain's mightiest media mogul are now intertwined.
PS. This story means that I have to emerge from my hideaway and appear on screen in Harry Potter tribute glasses. My normal specs were knocked off - by a branch not a tabloid journalist - and smashed.