LONDON (Agencies/Pacific Media Watch): British Prime Minister David Cameron today promised a full investigation into the phone hacking and the police bribery that led to the collapse of the News of the World tabloid, saying British politicians had for too long looked the other way at illegal practices, news agencies report.
Declaring that self-regulation of the press had failed, Cameron said a new body independent of the government and the news industry was needed to regulate newspapers in place of the Press Complaints Commission.
"The truth is, we've all been in this together," Cameron said, blaming both the press and politicians.
Cameron's former communications chief, Andy Coulson, a former editor of News of the World, and an ex-royal reporter have been arrested in the hacking and corruption scandal that has already toppled a major tabloid and rattled the cozy relationship between British politicians and the powerful Murdoch global media empire, news agencies report.
The 168-year-old muckraking tabloid News of the World was shut down on Thursday after being engulfed by allegations its journalists paid police for information and hacked into the phone messages of celebrities, young murder victims and even the grieving families of dead soldiers.
Its last publication day is this Sunday.
British newspaper splash headlines have featured "Paper that died of shame" (Daily Mail), "Hacked to death" (The Times - owned by Murdoch), "Goodbye, cruel World" (The Daily Telegraph) and "World's end" (The Sun - also owned by Murdoch) and highlighted a global media credibility crisis.
The hacking revelations horrified both ordinary Britons and advertisers, who pulled their ads en masse.
News International, the British arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., killed the paper in hopes of saving its 12 billion pound ($19 billion) deal to take over satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting.
But the British government on Friday signalled the deal would be delayed as a result of the crisis.
The scandal exploded this week after it was reported that the News of the World had hacked the mobile phone of 13-year-old murder victim Milly Dowler in 2002 while her family and police were desperately searching for her.
News of the World operatives reportedly deleted some messages from the phone's voicemail, giving the girl's parents false hope that she was still alive.
That ignited public outrage far beyond any previous reaction to press intrusion into the lives of politicians and celebrities, which the paper has acknowledged and for which it has paid compensation to some prominent victims, including actress Sienna Miller.
Dozens of companies pulled their advertising from the paper this week, fearing they would be tainted by association. James Murdoch then announced Thursday that this Sunday's edition of the tabloid would be its last and all profit from it will go to "good causes".
News International registered another paper, The Sun on Sunday, in the Sunday market that has been dominated for decades by News of the World.
In Fiji, a News Corp subsidiary, Sydney-based News Ltd, owned The Fiji Times until last September when the company was forced to divest the title to local ownership, the Motibhai Group, under a controversial Media Industry Development Decree introduced last year by the military backed regime.
The newspaper had faced sustained criticism of its ethical and professional conduct at the time of the George Speight attempted coup in May 2000.
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