Break up empire, demands British Labour leader

BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron last night called for an emergency session of parliament to brief MPs on the spreading phone hacking scandal.

The call from Mr Cameron in Pretoria to extend the House of Commons sitting until tomorrow came after Labour leader Ed Miliband called for Rupert Murdoch’s British media empire to be broken up.

“I think that we’ve got to look at the situation whereby one person can own more than 20 per cent of the newspaper market, the Sky platform and Sky News,” Mr Miliband told The Observer as his party prepared to submit proposals for cross-media ownership laws. “I think it’s unhealthy because that amount of power in one person’s hands has clearly led to abuses of power within his organisation.”

Parliament is due to break up for the summer tonight after MPs grill Mr Murdoch, his son James and his former British chief executive, Rebekah Brooks.

“It may well be right to have parliament meet on Wednesday so I can make a further statement,” Mr Cameron said on the first day of a visit to Africa cut short because of the crisis.

Britain’s Serious Fraud Office said last night it was giving “full consideration” to a request from an MP that it open an investigation into News Corporation.

Mr Murdoch closed the News of the World last week but still owns The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun newspapers as part of his News International division.

His News Corporation was forced to abandon an offer for control of pay-TV giant BSkyB, but retains 39 per cent of the company.

News International is reportedly planning to publish a Sunday version of The Sun to replace the News of the World.

A report by Ofcom, Britain’s independent communications regulator, in December showed that News Corporation was the biggest player in the national newspaper market, with 14.5 million adults reading at least one of its titles, compared with 7.3 million for the Daily Mail.

However, when the internet is taken into account, it is the BBC that dominates, followed by DMGT. Overall, the biggest reach of any media group is the BBC, via television, to 33.5 million people.

Media analyst Douglas McCabe argued that any review into media ownership would need to look at the reach of organisations via the internet and T.V

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