Dow Jones panel concerned about hacking scandal

NEW YORK Mon Jul 18, 2011 7:42am EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A special committee formed to oversee the integrity of Dow Jones & Co under parent News Corp is very concerned about the British phone hacking scandal that has shaken Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

The Dow Jones Special Committee said it was monitoring the situation and had been in talks with Dow Jones officials over the scandal, which has led to several arrests in London, as well as the resignation of Dow Jones head Les Hinton.

Hinton had run News Corp's British newspaper arm, News International, for many years including the period of the alleged phone hacking.

"Such matters are deeply concerning to us, suggesting as they do a serious default of basic journalistic standards in certain units of News Corp," the Dow Jones Special Committee said in a statement on Friday after Hinton's resignation.

The five-member watchdog was created in 2007 to help assuage the concerns of the Bancroft family who used to own Dow Jones. The Bancrofts were worried about the editorial independence and integrity of the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires under News Corp ownership.

Each member of the committee, chaired by Thomas Bray, is paid $100,000 a year.

The panel said it has no reason to believe that Hinton's departure was related to activities by the Wall Street Journal or Dow Jones "or that any of the London offenses or anything like them have taken place at Dow Jones."

Bray told the Associated Press on Saturday that the committee did not conduct an independent investigation to come to its conclusions.

"All we can testify to is what has or has not come to our attention," Bray told the AP. "That's our function. We're not a police force."

When asked if the committee plans to open an investigation into the matter, Bray told Reuters, "We are letting the statement speak for itself for now."

Rebekah Brooks, the former head of Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper business, was arrested on Sunday in the latest twist of a phone-hacking scandal that has tainted British police and politicians and shaken the tycoon's global media empire.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker and Jennifer Saba; Editing by Richard Chang)

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