News Corp brand will struggle to recover: Branson

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Rupert Murdoch's media empire is getting its "comeuppance" for long questionable practices and will struggle to recover its reputation after the phone-hacking scandal, Richard Branson said Wednesday.

The Virgin Group boss, asked about the importance of branding -- for which Branson's own multi-national group is famous -- said Murdoch's businesses around the world could suffer because of the British firestorm.

"Your reputation is all you have in life, your personal reputation and the reputation of your brand, and if you do anything that damages that reputation you can destroy your company," said the British entrepreneur and tycoon with holdings in media, music and travel, among others.

"In the UK right now News International are on their knees. You could argue that they should have been on their knees years ago because the way they've run some of their newspapers... has been quite questionable for a long time.

"But they're certainly getting their come-uppance now, and it's going to be very difficult for that brand to ever recover," he added.

The knock-on effects on other Murdoch businesses including Sky TV in Britain "or some of their other interests around the world will be considerable," he added, at a corporate event run by software giant Microsoft in Los Angeles.

He was speaking after Murdoch dramatically dropped his bid for control of pay TV giant BSkyB, bowing to pressure from the British government over the phone-hacking firestorm at his newspaper empire.

In a sign of wider fallout, key US lawmakers ramped up calls Wednesday for a formal US probe into the phone-hacking allegations, with one senator predicting it would turn up "criminal" misdeeds.

© 2011 AFP

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