Murdoch to fight back, launching "Sun on Sunday"

Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:14pm EST
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By Kate Holton

LONDON (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch vowed to launch a Sunday edition of his scandal-hit Sun tabloid on Friday in a bid to win over angry staff mounting one of the biggest challenges to his more than 40 years as a proprietor in Britain.

Murdoch was in London to reassure employees after the company supplied information to police which led to the arrest of some of the most senior journalists on the paper in an investigation into illegal payments to public officials.

In a typically bullish move, the 80-year-old said that News Corp would soon launch a Sun on Sunday to replace the News of the World, which was abruptly shut last year after an inquiry into telephone hacking to generate stories.

"I've worked alongside you for 43 years to build The Sun into one of the world's finest papers," Australian-born Murdoch said in an email to staff.

"My continuing respect makes this situation a source of great pain for me, as I know it is for each of you."

Murdoch later visited the newsroom floor of the Sun with his eldest son Lachlan, prompting speculation about what that meant for son James, who had been seen as heir apparent at News Corp before the hacking scandal blew up.

A source familiar with the situation played down the significance of the appearance, saying James had been busy and wanted Lachlan at what was likely to be a difficult meeting.

The latest arrests sparked the most bitter row within News Corp's British newspaper arm since a radical overhaul of print unions sparked violent clashes in the 1980s.   Continued...

News Corp Chief Executive and Chairman Rupert Murdoch arrives in central London February 16, 2012. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth