Murdoch’s Sun, U.K.’s Biggest Paper for Decades, Now Worth Zero
(Bloomberg) -- Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. wrote down the value of its once high-flying Sun title to zero, underscoring the dramatic decline in Britain’s newspaper industry.
The tabloid’s blend of gossip and right-wing political coverage has made it Britain’s most widely-read paper for more than four decades, until the rival Daily Mail claimed the title last year.
Its editors have struggled to carve out a place for the paper in a new world of online news -- trying a paywall model before abandoning it -- and attempting to move on from a phone hacking scandal that blew up a decade ago, damaging the Sun’s credibility as a campaigner for social causes.
News Corp. said its cash flow forecasts for the Sun led it to book an impairment of 84 million pounds ($119 million) in 2020, according to its accounts published Friday. The carrying value of its publishing rights and titles as of June 28 last year fell to zero from 112 million pounds in 2019.
The company also raised the amount set aside for legal provisions for the phone hacking claims to 52 million pounds, up from 27 million pounds in 2019.
The paper said it has settled, or is in the process of settling, most claims linked to the hacking scandal and inappropriate payments to public officials. It has not made provisions for outstanding claims that haven’t yet led to court proceedings.
“It is not possible to estimate the liability for such additional claims given the information that is currently available to the company,” it said.
The Sun newspaper was the 16th most popular news source across all platforms in the U.K. in 2020, according to industry regulator Ofcom. The pandemic hit newstand and ad revenue, causing an adjusted operating loss of 197 million pounds, widening from a loss of 55 million pounds in 2019.
The Sun said last year it is still the country’s most popular news brand when measuring total brand audience across print and digital.
A spokeswoman for News Corp. declined to comment.
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