Can Rupert Murdoch save the sinking Sun?

A News International spokesman tells us Sun editor Dominic Mohan is “not resigning” in the wake of five more high-profile arrests of his senior colleagues.

Well, thank goodness for that. Someone has to be there to switch off the lights, and there now seem precious few editorial staff of any standing who aren’t on bail, or facing the threat of arrest.

The climate of fear at the Sun is, it would seem, being deliberately intensified by the police, in the hope of breaking NI’s culture of omerta and persuading more witnesses to squeal on each other. What other interpretation should we place on police commander Sue Akers'(pictured) decision to organise the two waves of arrests, a week apart, as melodramatic ‘dawn raids’ timed to coincide with Sunday newspaper interest?

Whatever these men may or may not have done, they are not gun runners, drug traffickers or international terrorists. So why else the heavy-handed police choreography, except to a) demonstrate to the public that the police are at last serious about combatting corruption and b) to exert maximum pressure on the people at NI?

As the web of alleged corruption spreads to more police officers, the army and the Ministry of Defence, Rupert Murdoch has announced that he will be making a special pilgrimage to the Sun offices to personally reassure its staff he will not be doing unto them what he earlier did to their colleagues at the News of the World.

Maybe not, for now. But one thing I suspect we won’t be hearing much of from here on is Son of NoW, the Sun on Sunday. The Sun is a broken brand.

The latest wave of arrests will also put pressure on other parts of the Sun’s ultimate owner, News Corp. It could turn the screw on a Federal investigation into alleged racketeering. And, nearer home, it will rekindle calls for an investigation into News Corp being a fit and proper holder of a TV licence (it owns 39 per cent of British pay-TV operator BSkyB). Should BSkyB’s share price be seriously depressed as a result, you can be sure that – for all their stalwart support of James Murdoch up to now – the board will have no compunction in firing him as chairman.

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About Stuart Smith

Stuart Smith is one of the most incisive and knowledgeable commentators on global marketing. He was a long-time editor of Marketing Week during the period when it was the UK's leading marketing, media and advertising specialist publication. Visit Stuart Smith Blog.