News Corp has allowed that the ongoing UK and US investigations into the News Of The World phone hacking scandal might just hurt its reputation and business interests.
"It is also possible that these proceedings could damage our reputation and might impair our ability to conduct our business," the company said its annual report, filed to the SEC on Monday.
News Corp said it is "cooperating fully" with the investigations, but warned that "we are not able to predict the ultimate outcome or cost of the investigations. Violations of law may result in civil, administrative or criminal fines or penalties" which "could affect the company's results of operations and financial condition."
The investigations stem from allegations that reporters working for Britain's now-defunct News Of The World tabloid bribed police officers, and hacked into the voice messages of murder victims, soldiers' families, public officials and celebrities.
The scandal hopped over to the U.S., where News Corp is based, after an article in Britain's the Daily Mirror alleged that a P.I. in New York claimed NOTW reporters tried to enlist him to hack into the voice messages of British victims of 9/11. The FBI launched an investigation in response to the allegations.
The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by News Corp, reported Saturday that investigators on both sides of the pond, including Scotland Yard, the FBI and the NYPD, have so far been unable to find any evidence that this occurred. But, according to the WSJ, officials are reportedly expanding the probe to focus on whether there is a broader pattern of corruption at News Corp's U.S. holdings.
In the U.K., the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is now investigating whether a member of the Surrey police force initially tipped off NOTW reporters about the Milly Dowler kidnapping and murder case when it was in its early stages of investigation. Revelations that reporters hacked into Dowler's voice mail after her disappearance ignited public fury over the scandal, and helped lead to the resignation and arrest of several top News International employees.