News Corp. mulls unloading British papers: report

WASHINGTON, July 13, 2011 (AFP) - In the wake of the News of the World reporting scandal, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is considering the sell-off of its remaining British newspapers, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Citing unnamed sources, the Journal said News Corp. has explored whether there are any potential buyers for News International, which includes British newspapers the Sun, the Times of London and the Sunday Times.

The unit also included the 168-year-old News of the World weekly, which published its last issue on Sunday after becoming embroiled in a phone-hacking scandal that shocked the public and drew a furious government reaction.

The Journal, which is also owned by News Corp., said Murdoch himself has long opposed such a move and considers News International one of his favorite components of his media empire.

The Journal, citing the same sources, said that there did not appear to be any buyers because of the poor state of the newspaper industry, but said the company may revisit the idea in the next six months.

News Corp.'s board has broached the idea of selling off News International on a number of occasions in recent years but that Murdoch himself always shot the idea down, the Journal said.

"It was basically one of those things where it was talked about for maybe two to five minutes and Rupert would say, 'No way,'" the Journal quoted a person familiar with the company as saying.

British lawmakers on Wednesday were set to deal a body blow to Murdoch's bid for pay-TV giant BSkyB, as the phone-hacking scandal rocking his media empire threatened to spill over to the United States.

US Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller warned Tuesday of "severe" consequences if it is found that the phone-hacking had spread to Murdoch's US operations.

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