London: Labour leader Ed Miliband on Sunday demanded that media baron Rupert Murdoch's empire be dismantled in Britain and sought new media ownership rules to prevent concentration of power, amid a row over the phone-hacking scandal involving the Australia-born tycoon's papers.

According to Miliband, Murdoch has too much power through his holdings in the press and television industries.

Miliband's latest offensive is the reflection of Murdoch's much-reduced influence in British politics, a stark change from a culture in which prime ministers, opposition leaders, ministers and MPs courted him for fear of being on the wrong side of his media empire.

"The psyche of British politics has changed... So many people have believed that you can't win without Murdoch, you can't win without the Sun... (but now) I think the endorsement of Murdoch will be a pretty double-edged one at the next general election," he said in an interview to The Observer.

Besides Miliband, several leaders have been calling for a close look at Murdoch's current media holdings and whether they are "fit and proper" to function according to the law in Britain.

Miliband demanded cross-party agreement on new media ownership laws that would cut Murdoch's current market share, arguing that he has "too much power over British public life".
Miliband said that the abandonment by Murdoch's News International of its bid for BSkyB, the resignation of its chief executive Rebekah Brooks and the closure of the News of the World tabloid were insufficient to restore trust and reassure the public.

The Labour leader argues that current media ownership rules are outdated, describing them as "analogue rules for a digital age" that do not take into account the advent of mass digital and satellite broadcasting.

He said: "I think that we've got to look at the situation whereby one person can own more than 20 percent of the newspaper market, the Sky platform and Sky News. I think it's unhealthy because that amount of power in one person's hands has clearly led to abuses of power within his organisation.

"If you want to minimise the abuses of power then that kind of concentration of power is frankly quite dangerous."

Miliband said that when the new Sunday Sun was launched by Murdoch's company, possibly in August, it would add further to his penetration of the UK media market.

Agencies