Senator John Rockefeller (D-WV) and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, has called for an investigation of News Corp. following the telephone hacking scandal at News of the World, signaling the crisis could spread to the US.
Rockefeller, said phone-hacking at News of the World raised “serious questions” about whether the newspaper’s parent company had broken any U.S. laws: “I am concerned that the admitted phone hacking in London by the News Corp. may have extended to 9/11 victims or other Americans,” he said in a statement 7/12. “If they did, the consequences will be severe.”
So far, the scandal has largely been contained to the British business of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. But the company owns US TV stations and networks, the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, and Fox Broadcasting here in the U.S.
As we had predicted, earlier on 7/13, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said he did not expect his agency to become involved in any examination of News Corp.
RBR-TVBR observation: Ironically, all of the controversy enveloping News Corp. may have a positive impact on Fox affiliates as it relates to their continuing battle over retransmission fees. Now with Rockefeller poised to begin hearings on possible US phone hacks, the last thing Fox wants is to further irritate local affiliates with ties to politicians seeking reelection in 2012, over a de minimis amount of money when News. Corp is under fire.
Also, as we said earlier, as long as News Corp. is forthright in any investigations and the fact that is swiftly shuttered News of the World, we don’t think the FCC will be interested. However, if a Congressional investigation does get launched and does find wrongdoing here at the company’s US assets, that could be a different story. We doubt it would come to that, however, as what went on at the other side of the pond is probably contained there as well. The wildcard also is what American media and the American public might do if 9/11 victims and Americans were found to be hacked.