Do you hear that? It's the sound of another shoe dropping. News Corp, besieged by a strange and unfamiliar phenomenon called "bad publicity that can't just be ignored," just announced that it's abandoning its lengthy (and extremely important, at least in the context of European media) quest to take over British Sky Broadcasting.
The official statement:
"We believed that the proposed acquisition of BSkyB by News Corporation would benefit both companies but it has become clear that it is too difficult to progress in this climate. News Corporation remains a committed long-term shareholder in BSkyB. We are proud of the success it has achieved and our contribution to it."
This, even more than the closure of News of the World, is a concrete hit to News Corp's bottom line, as a direct result of the still-sizzling phone hacking scandal. The company's takeover bid for BSkyB was always controversial. But whereas it was previously assumed that Rupert Murdoch would just pull the usual strings to shepherd it through the process of regulatory approvals, the scandal has now clearly made that politically impossible.
At the same time the company was abandoning its bid, the British government was announcing an inquiry into the scandal "akin to the U.S. Warren Commission that looked into the JFK assassination." That means many more months of toxic PR. News Corp very well could be completely out of the UK tabloid business before that inquiry is over.
[Photos via Getty, AP]