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Subject Media mogul Rupert Murdoch admits to controlling Sun's political backing
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Original Message Rupert Murdoch has told a parliamentary inquiry that he has "editorial control" over which party The Sun and News of the World back in a General Election and what line the papers take on Europe, it was revealed today.

But the News Corporation chairman said he took a different approach with his other national newspapers in the UK, The Times and Sunday Times.

While he often asks what the Times and its Sunday sister are doing, he never instructs them or interferes, he told the House of Lords Communications Committee.

Mr Murdoch's comments came in evidence he gave behind closed doors on September 17 in New York, during the committee's visit to the US as part of its inquiry into media ownership and the news.

According to a minute of the meeting published by the committee today, Mr Murdoch said that Sky News - operated by BSkyB, which is 39% owned by a subsidiary of NewsCorp - could be more popular if it emulated his Fox News Channel in the US.

Outlining Mr Murdoch's account of his approach to the editorial content of his British papers, the committee minute stated: "He distinguishes between The Times and The Sunday Times and The Sun and the News of the World (and makes the same distinction between the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal).

"For The Sun and News of the World he explained that he is a 'traditional proprietor'. He exercises editorial control on major issues - like which party to back in a General Election or policy on Europe."

It added: "Mr Murdoch did not disguise the fact that he is hands-on both economically and editorially.

"He says that 'the law' prevents him from instructing the editors of The Times and The Sunday Times.

"he independent board is there to make sure he cannot interfere and he never says 'Do this or that' although he often asks 'What are you doing?'.

"He explained that he 'nominates' the editors of these two papers but that the nominations are subject to approval of the independent board.

"His first appointment of an editor of The Times split the board but was not rejected."

Although Fox News is widely considered to be more partisan in its coverage than UK news broadcasters, Mr Murdoch told the committee that a relaxation of impartiality rules would not be required in order for Sky News to become more similar to it.

The minute noted: "He believed that Sky News would be more popular if it were more like the Fox News Channel.

"Then it would be 'a proper alternative to the BBC'. One of the reasons that it is not a proper alternative to the BBC is that no broadcaster or journalist in the UK knows any different.

"Mr Murdoch stated that Sky News could become more like Fox without a change to the impartiality rules in the UK.

"For example, Sky had not yet made the presentational progress that Fox News had. He stated that the only reason that Sky News was not more like Fox News was that 'nobody at Sky listens to me'."

[link to www.dailymail.co.uk]
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