Now News Corp is in the dock over claims it hacked into rival US in-store marketing company

It really doesn’t get any better for embattled News Corporation.

Fresh from what Rupert Murdoch called the most ‘humble’ day of his long life before the UK Parliamentary culture, media and sport committee (plus a shaving foam pie in the face) the company is facing the revival of allegations in the US that it hacked into the computer of in-store marketing rival Floorgraphics (a company it subsequently bought) back in 2003 and 2004.

News Corp subsidiary News America Marketing (which produces newspapers, inserts, coupons and in-store marketing material) eventually settled the case for $29m in 2009.

But now Democratic senator Frank Lautenberg has asked the FBI and US department of justice (which are currently investigating various allegations against News Corp) to re-open the case, prompted in part, no doubt, by News Corp deputy COO James Murdoch’s revelations to the Parliamentary committee that another subsidiary News International paying a total of £1.7m to Gordon Taylor and Max Clifford for alleged phone hacking was regarded in the company as a routine matter.

The Financial Times reports that News Corp has spent a staggering $500m in just the last two years to settle claims of anti-competitive behaviour.

News Corp would no doubt argue that it’s a huge (and highly competitive) company so these things are bound to happen and it’s often easier (and cheaper) to settle out of court.

It can also point to the obvious desire of Democrat politicians to inflict some pain on News Corp in the same way it has on the governing Democratic Party through the right wing ravings on its powerful Fox News Channel.

But the issue underlying all the News Corporation scandals (proven and unproven) is the culture of the organisation which is plainly competitive to the nth degree and prepared to push the boundaries of what is acceptable business practice (and journalistic practice) rather too far on far too many occasions.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.