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Murdoch abandons BSkyB bid in rare business defeat

Rupert Murdoch withdrew his bid to takeover British Sky Broadcasting as political and public outrage over the phone-hacking scandal involving his tabloids soars.

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Rupert Murdoch formally withdrew his bid Wednesday to take over British Sky Broadcasting as public anger envelops his media empire in the wake of a burgeoning national phone-hacking scandal.

Over the past few days, the BSkyB bid became the symbol and rallying point against the excesses of the British tabloid culture with which Mr. Murdoch, whose News of the World (NotW) tabloid is at the center of the hacking investigation, is synonymous.

The withdrawal is being seen as something of a public humiliation for the octogenarian billionaire who is alternately known as media baron, shrewd operator, kingmaker, and despot. And until the Guardian revealed that NotW broke into the voicemail a 13-year old murdered girl, Murdoch often wielded enormous political power in Britain through fear.

Murdoch's decision to back away from the BSkyB deal may come down to his aversion to testifying in investigations about the invasive and allegedly illegal practices of his tabloids, and to keep his son, James Murdoch, and other News Corp officials off the stand, too, according to analysts.

Earlier today, Tom Crone, who was legal counsel for Murdoch's British newspapers, said he was leaving the firm. Mr. Crone is known as a respected professional who worked on Saturdays and vetted stories for NotW and the Sun, Murdoch's other British tabloid.

Murdoch's BSkyB decision is also seen as compelled by the fact that he suddenly has few political allies able to open doors.

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