LONDON (AFP)- News Corporation chief Rupert Murdoch has admitted that he has editorial control over which political party The Sun backs in a general election.
Murdoch added that the same applies for News of the World, The Sun’s sister weekly tabloid, and on which political line the newspapers take over Britain’s role in Europe, according to minutes of a cross-party interrogation of the media tycoon published late Friday.
In 1992, after the Conservatives won the British general election, The Sun’s front page boasted: “It was the Sun wot won it.” In 1997, The Sun instructed its readers to vote Labour and indeed later that year the party won re-election after almost two decades in opposition.
Murdoch’s comments on editorial control came in evidence he gave behind closed doors on September 17 in New York to the House of Lords Communications Committee.
The cross-party grouping of members of the House of Lords were in the United States, where Murdoch is based, as part of an inquiry into media ownership and the news.
Outlining Murdoch’s account of his approach to the editorial content of his British papers, the committee minute stated:
“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. The 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?’.
Murdoch recently won a battle for Dow Jones Co. and its prized The Wall Street Journal and his News Corp. owns satellite-broadcasters and more than 100 newspapers worldwide.
In the United States, Murdoch’s News Corp. owns the Fox News Channel, the New York Post newspaper, the Fox film studios and television network and the rapidly growing Internet social networking site, MySpace.
His holding company also owns satellite broadcasters including British-based BSkyB, Sky Italia of Italy and the Asian-based Star TV. Other holdings include The Australian newspaper and the US-based book publishing giant HarperCollins.