The News of the World published today its last issue, the 8674th,, bidding a “sad and proud farewell to its 7.5 million readers”, defiant and bombastic till the end. But is it the end of Rupert Murdoch too? Suddenly the powerful tycoon looked a tired old man as he ran for cover in Sun Valley, Idaho with hacks in hot pursuit. Today, competitors spent acres of newsprint poring over 40 years of Murdoch’s domination of the British media and political landscape, making or breaking the reputation of the great and the good. This was a perversion of our politics, orchestrated by a man whose power the establishment failed to check wrote The Observer. Politicians of all hues danced to his tune, but in a few hours the game has changed and the spell broken.
In the whirl of arrests, denials and inquiries, the question of the day is whether Murdoch will keep his hands on the rest of BSkyB? Prime minister Cameron wriggles, almost reneging on a done deal by delaying it. Opposition leader Ed Milliband, having kicked the shackles, demands that the bid goes to the competition commission and even that Parliament votes on the takeover.
Closing down NOTW is the price that Murdoch seems willing to pay to secure full ownership of BSkyB, the leading provider of pay TV and the ultimate cash cow. In the last few days, £1 billion was wiped from its value and now city experts warn the deal may collapse. For many weeks to come following the death of NOTW, every day will bring its harvest of new twists and turns but, one thing is increasingly certain, Murdoch’s influence on the body politics will never be the same.