Murdoch media empire shaken after BSkyB bid collapses

With Rupert Murdoch's News Corp officially abandoning its bid for full control of broadcaster BSyB on Wednesday, speculation was rife today that the group may sell off the rest of its British properties, including The Sun, The Times, and The Sunday Times, in order to put the phone-hacking controversy behind and make a fresh start.

Rupert MurdochA sale of News International, the group's UK newspaper arm, could help Murdoch put the crisis behind him. But going by the latest reports, such a move seems unlikely in the immediate future.

''This (sell-off) may not be his most immediate focus. Instead, Murdoch is primarily focused on sorting out immediate political and legal issues faced by his company, family and staff,'' Reuters quoted a source close to the situation as saying.

Murdoch, has so far been steadfast in his refusal to dump his newspapers. But the scandal has already taken several unexpected turns, so it may eventually force his hand, several observers said.

In the present climate though, there is also the question of whether News International would attract any buyers.

A report in the New York-based Wall Street Journal, also a part of the Murdoch empire, echoed this view. It said the senior Murdoch has met with his advisors to discuss the sell-off option, but there didn't appear to be any buyers, particularly given the poor economics of the newspaper division.