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13 February 2012updated 26 Sep 2015 8:46pm

Should Murdoch sell the Sun?

An intriguing proposal from Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff.

By George Eaton

Trevor Kavanagh’s article in today’s Sun is notable for its hyperbolic attack on the police investigation (Kavanagh casually dismisses alleged bribery as “standard procedure”) and for its coded critique of News Corp management.

Referring to “a sensitive domestic issue within the News International ‘family'”, Kavanagh, one of Murdoch’s longest-serving lieutenants, writes that while it is important for News Corp to protect its reputation in the US, “some of the greatest legends in Fleet Street have been held, at least on the basis of evidence so far revealed, for simply doing their jobs as journalists on behalf of the company.” Kavanagh’s language (“simply doing their jobs”) reflects the widespread sense at the Sun that the red-top, one of Murdoch’s most successful papers, has been “hung out to dry” by News Corp.

The News of the World precedent means that there is natural speculation about the future of the Sun. In the absence of anything as toxic as the Milly Dowler scandal, it’s hard to see Murdoch taking the nuclear option but one of his biographers, Michael Wolff, makes a smart suggestion in the Guardian. He argues that Murdoch should sell the Sun and use the proceeds (estimated at £500-£700m) to set up a not-for-profit trust to safeguard the future of the Times and the Sunday Times. This would strengthen Murdoch’s claim to be the last of the great press barons and a supporter of “quality journalism”. But as long as Rupert’s alive, it’s likely that the Sun will remain in the News Corp family.

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