Saturday 15 October 2011

New scandal hits Murdoch's News Corp


scandal surrounding Rupert Murdoch's media empire grew murkier today after the Wall Street Journal said its top European executive Andrew Langhoff had resigned for attempting to influence editorial content to favour a partner in a cut-price circulation scam. The US paper said Mr Langhoff had been involved in renegotiating the long-standing agreement with a European company so that the firm would get free advertising space - and articles which promoted its agenda. The report differed markedly from a statement from the paper's owner, News Corp subsidiary Dow Jones, which said Mr Langhoff's resignation on Tuesday had nothing to do with the circulation deal with Netherlands-based Executive Learning Partnerships (ELP), which was exposed by the Guardian on Wednesday. The secretive agreement - which was deemed legal by the Audit Bureau of Circulation - apparently involved the Journal channelling money through European companies so they could buy thousands of copies of its paper at knock-down prices, leading to inflated circulation figures that could mislead advertisers into paying more. ELP reportedly paid one euro-cent each for 12,000 copies of the Journal every day, when the paper's European edition costs £1.50. ELP was just one of several companies involved in the scheme, which by 2010 is estimated to have accounted for 41 per cent of the Journal's European sales. If the paper's official European circulation of 75,000 copies a day is found to be false it could be forced to pay compensation to hundreds of advertisers and may even face fraud charges.