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Watchdog wants Hill probe of Murdochs, hacking scandal

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A government watchdog group has asked Congress to investigate whether News Corp top executives James and Rupert Murdock meet Federal Communications Commission standards to retain their 27 Fox broadcast licenses.

James Murdoch, son of the News Corp. founder and global media magnate, has been accused of lying to a British parliamentary committee when testifying this week regarding a telephone hacking scandal at the News of the World tabloid, which the corporation shuttered this mouth.

Under U.S. law, broadcast frequencies may be used only by people of good “character,” who will serve “the public interest,” and speak with “candor.” Significant character deficiencies could warrant disqualification from holding a license.

“Given all the underhanded, devious and illegal activities of News Corp, combined with James Murdoch’s failure to be candid when he testified before a parliamentary committee, it seems evident the Murdochs don’t meet the FCC’s character standard,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan.

Two former News of the World senior executives, as well as the paper’s lawyer, have said James Murdoch provided untrue information regarding an out-of-court settlement made to Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the English Professional Footballers Association.

“Holding U.S. broadcast licenses is a privilege, not a right,” Ms. Sloan said. “The Murdochs — through a pattern of misconduct and deception — may have lost that right.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Frank Lautenberg sent a letter Wednesday to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert S. Mueller noting that a News Corp. subsidiary, News America, had been involved in computer hacking in 2004 of Floorgraphics, a former U.S. company.

“As the Department of Justice and FBI examine the recent hacking allegations involving News Corp. and its subsidiaries more closely, I wanted to make sure that you were fully aware of the case of Floorgraphics and News America, as it may be relevant to your current investigation,” the New Jersey Democrat wrote.

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