Daily Digest: Murdoch unfit to lead, Verizion and Comcast teaming up, Doom on May Day

Nickalas Tabbert

 Here is your Daily Digest for Tuesday, May 1:

Murdoch Unfit to Lead Media Empire

Rupert Murdoch is unfit to lead his global media empire, British lawmakers said Tuesday.  A report released by the panel of lawmakers said the News Corp. chief is “not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company” after his recent illegal phone hacking at the News of the World tabloid.

Murdoch said he was unaware that hacking was widespread at the now-closed tabloid, blaming underlings for keeping him in the dark, The Associated Press said.  He closed down the 168-year-old Sunday tabloid last July amid public revulsion at the hacking of voice mail messages of celebrities and victims of crime. 

News Corp. said in a statement Tuesday that it “acknowledges significant wrongdoing at News of the World and apologizes to everyone whose privacy was invaded.”

The panel stated that James Murdoch, the news tycoon’s son, showed poor leadership in failing to get to the bottom of the hacking scandal, the Los Angeles Times said.  Lawmakers said neither of the Murdochs had lied to Parliament about their knowledge of the extent of the problem.

Parliament’s cross-party Culture, Media and Sport committee said News International, the British newspaper division of Murdoch’s News Corp., had deliberately ignored evidence of malpractice, covered up evidence and frustrated efforts to expose wrongdoing, the Associated Press said.

Throughout the scandal, News International’s approach “was to cover up rather than seek out wrongdoing,” the legislators wrote.

The report also said three former executives of News Corp.’s U.K. newspaper unit misled Parliament in 2009: Les Hinton, chief executive of News Corp. unit Dow Jones & Co., which publishes the Wall Street Journal; Colin Myler, the News of the World’s editor from 2007 until its closure last year; and Tom Crone, the tabloid’s top lawyer.

Hinton released a statement Tuesday saying he is “shocked and disappointed” by the report’s conclusion.

“I refute these accusations utterly,” he said.  “I have always been truthful in my dealings with the committee and its findings are unfounded, unfair and erroneous.”

The Wall Street Journal said the committee plans to ask the House of Commons, the U.K. Parliament’s primary lawmaking chamber, to make a final decision on “whether a contempt has been committed and, if so, what punishment should be imposed.”

Misleading a parliamentary committee isn’t a criminal offense, and the report didn’t say what the punishment would be other than “reputational damage and public opprobrium.”


Verizon, Comcast to cross-sell across Twin Cities

Verizon Wireless and Comcast will begin marketing and selling each other's services in the Twin Cities, saying they want to offer customers one-stop shopping for both.

Through the partnership, customers of Comcast's video, high-speed Internet access or phone service have a chance to buy mobile phone service, too, for the first time, but that will not be part of a formal "quadruple-play" bundle, spokeswomen for both companies said Monday.

The deal comes as Verizon Wireless is seeking regulatory approval to buy broadcast spectrum licenses from Comcast and other cable companies so it can expand its mobile data services. The $3.6 billion deal also calls for Verizon Wireless to sell services for the cable companies.

Comcast now has access to 23 Verizon Wireless stores in the Twin Cities area that fall within Comcast's cable footprint, Comcast spokeswoman Mary Beth Schubert said.

Critics have called the deal anti-competitive and the Federal Communications Commission is studying the matter, the Pioneer Press said. Verizon Wireless has offered to sell off spectrum in the 700 megahertz-band range if regulators sign off on the cable deal.


International gloom on May Day

Hundreds of thousands of workers marked May Day in European cities Tuesday with a mix of anger and gloom over strictness measures imposed by leaders trying to contain the eurozone's intractable debt crisis.

Taking the baton from Asia, where unions demanded wage increases as they transformed the day from one celebrating workers rights to one of international protest, workers turned out in droves in Greece, France and Spain — the latest focus of a debt nightmare that has already forced three eurozone countries to seek financial bailouts, The Associated Press said.

In the United States, demonstrations, strikes and acts of civil disobedience were planned, including what could be the country's most high-profile Occupy rallies since the anti-Wall Street encampments in the fall.

Under a gray, threatening Madrid sky that reflected the dark national mood, 25-year Adriana Jaime confided she turned out because she speaks three foreign languages and has a masters degree as a translator — but has been unemployed for six months, and sees her future as grim at best.

"I am here because there is no future for the young people of this country," she said as marchers walked up the city's main north-south boulevard, protesting health care and education spending cuts and other austerity measures. Many carried black and white placards, with the word NO and a pair of red scissors pictured inside the O.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is trying desperately to cut a bloated deficit, restore investor confidence in Spain's public finances, lower the 24.4 jobless rate, and fend off fears it will join Greece, Ireland and Portugal in needing a bailout.

Ana Lopez, a 44-year-old civil servant, said May Day is sacred for her but this year in particular, arguing the government is doing nothing to help workers and that the economic crisis is benefiting banks, the Associated Press said.

"Money does not just disappear. It does not fly away. It just changes hands, and now it is with the banks," Lopez said. "And the politicians are puppets of the banks."