Move to Close Newspaper Is Greeted With Suspicion

July 8, 2011

By  and , The New York Times

The News Corporation’s decision to shut down the British tabloid The News of the World on Thursday did little to silence the growing uproar over revelations that the newspaper had hacked into the voice mails of private citizens.

In fact, it may have only fueled the outrage.

An outpouring of suspicion and condemnation came from all directions on Thursday, and was directed chiefly at the News Corporation’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch, a figure as powerful as he is polarizing.

The British media establishment, Facebook and Twitter users and even Mr. Murdoch’s own employees questioned his move. Some said it was a ploy to salvage government approval of the News Corporation’s potentially lucrative controlling stake in the satellite company British Sky Broadcasting, or BSkyB. Others saw it as merely a rebranding.

There are already indications that The News of the World may be reconstituted in some form. People with ties to the company said Thursday that the News Corporation had for some time been examining whether to start a Sunday edition for its other British tabloid, The Sun.

The demise of The News of the World, which publishes only on Sundays, would seem to create the opportunity for that, these people said, speaking anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Mr. Murdoch’s News International is the largest national newspaper publisher in Britain, a status that affords him tremendous economic and political influence. In addition to publishing The News of the World and The Sun, News International owns The Times of London, a smaller but more prestigious paper.

The News of the World has a circulation of 2.7 million, a size that gives News International scale with advertisers and a dominance in the market that analysts say Mr. Murdoch is unlikely to want to see diminished.

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