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Murdoch Comes Out Fighting for UK Newspapers

Friday, 17 Feb 2012 | 9:31 AM ET

Rupert Murdoch reaffirmed his commitment to his embattled U.K. newspapers by announcing in London Friday that he will launch a new Sunday edition of The Sun “very soon.”

Rupert Murdoch speaks before Parliament.
CNBC
Rupert Murdoch speaks before Parliament.

this week following the arrests of five journalists last weekend over allegations of bribery.

Murdoch said in an email to the publication’s staff that the newspaper is “a part of” him and “one of our proudest achievements.”

He added that those journalists who had been suspended may return to work and said that he will stay in London for several weeks to support the newspaper.

Murdoch bought the paper 43 years ago and built it up into the keystone of News Corp.’s U.K. newspaper wing, News International -- and the best-selling daily newspaper in the U.K.

His public commitment to The Sun contrasts to The News of the World, which was shut down within weeks after allegations emerged of phone hacking by some its reporters. A “Sun on Sunday” newspaper has been rumored since The News of the World was closed down last year.

The announcement comes after months of speculation that News Corp. might divest the U.K. newspaper wing, which is a very small part of the media company. If the bribery allegations, which are believed to involve bribing officials for tipoffs, are proven to be true, News Corp. could face prosecution in the U.S. under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

There has also been speculation over whether Murdoch – who will be 81 years old next month – will continue to lead the company. His son James’ position as heir apparent to the News Corp. crown has been badly shaken. Both Murdochs appeared in front of a U.K. parliamentary committee following the scandal, and James was called back in front of the committee in November to answer further questions about how much he knew about phone hacking at the newspaper.

“Illegal activities simply cannot and will not be tolerated – at any of our publications,” Murdoch said.

There has been speculation that there are more secrets to be uncovered at News International by the police and the Management and Standards Committee, which is looking over around 300 million emails in an effort to trace any illegal activity.

The editor of The Times, the daily broadsheet which is part of News International, admitted to the Leveson Inquiry, a judicial inquiry into the actions of the British press, in London last month that a single incident of email hacking had occurred at the newspaper.

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