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Developments in British phone-hacking scandal

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. said Thursday that it plans to split into two separate, publicly traded companies.

Under the proposal, one company would operate as a newspaper and book publisher, while the other would be an entertainment company that includes the 20th Century Fox movie studio, the Fox broadcast TV network and the Fox News channel. It may take a year to work out the details.

The move comes as Britain's communications regulator enters the final stages of its review of whether BSkyB is "fit and proper" to hold a broadcast license amid a phone-hacking scandal involving British newspaper owned by News Corp.

Here are key developments in that scandal:

November 2005: News of the World royal reporter Clive Goodman writes story saying Prince William has a knee injury. Buckingham Palace complaint prompts police inquiry.

August 2006: Goodman arrested along with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire for suspected hacking into voicemails of royal officials.

January 2007: Goodman jailed for four months; Mulcaire given six-month sentence. News of the World editor Andy Coulson resigns but insists he had not known about the hacking.

May 2007: Conservative Party leader David Cameron taps Coulson to be his media adviser.

July 2009: Coulson tells parliamentary committee he never "condoned use of phone hacking."

February 2010: Parliamentary committee finds no evidence that Coulson knew about phone hacking but states it's "inconceivable" that no one apart from Goodman knew about it.

May 2010: Cameron becomes prime minister; Coulson named communications chief.

Jan. 14, 2011: British police reopen investigation into phone-hacking charges against News of the World.

Jan. 21: Coulson resigns from Cameron's office amid claims he had sanctioned phone hacking. Coulson continues to deny any wrongdoing or any knowledge of hacking.

April 5: Police arrest two journalists, including Ian Edmondson, the tabloid's former news editor, on suspicion of intercepting voicemails. More than a dozen arrests of journalists and some police would follow in the coming months as inquiries into phone hacking and police corruption continued.

April 8: News of the World admits it was responsible for phone hacking and says it will set up a compensation plan to deal with claims fairly and efficiently. It was the newspaper's first admission of liability.

April 15: Judge allows actress Sienna Miller and three others to proceed with lawsuits against the newspaper despite an ongoing criminal investigation.

May 13: Miller's lawyer says lawsuit settled for 100,000 pounds (about $165,000 at the time). Since then, News International has reached settlements with several others to avoid trials.

June 30: British regulators give News Corp. tentative approval to take full control of satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting.

July 4: The Guardian newspaper reports that News of the World journalists hacked into voicemails left for murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, and gave her parents and police false hope she was alive by deleting messages when the mailbox became full.

July 7: News International shuts down the best-selling News of the World tabloid after 168 years, effective July 10.

July 8: Coulson and two other men are arrested in the widening police inquiry.

July 11: News Corp. withdraws offer to spin off Sky News in attempt to save bid for complete control of satellite broadcaster BSkyB. British media report that two other News Corp. newspapers in Britain engaged in hacking, deception and privacy violations that included accessing former Prime Minister Gordon Brown's bank account information and stealing the medical records of his seriously ill baby son.

July 13: News Corp. pulls its bid to take full control of BSkyB.

July 15: Resignations of Rebekah Brooks, the chief of News Corp.'s British operations, and Les Hinton, publisher of Dow Jones & Co. and one of Murdoch's staunchest allies. Hinton was chairman of News International during some of the time phone hacking took place. Murdoch meets with Milly Dowler's family to apologize.

July 16: News Corp. apologizes in newspaper ads for "serious wrongdoing" at the News of the World.

July 17: Brooks is arrested in scandal. London police chief Paul Stephenson resigns amid criticism over his alleged links to Neil Wallis, a former News of the World executive editor arrested in the scandal. Murdoch publishes another ad, titled "Putting right what's gone wrong."

July 18: London police assistant commissioner John Yates resigns. He made the decision two years earlier not reopen police inquiry into phone hacking — a decision he said he would have made differently with the benefit of hindsight.

July 19: Murdoch appears at a parliamentary hearing alongside his son James and says he was humbled and ashamed, but accepted no responsibility for wrongdoing. James Murdoch, executive chairman of the British newspaper unit, apologizes, but denies he knew hacking was widespread at News of the World.

July 21: James Murdoch's former legal adviser and a former editor contest his testimony.

Aug. 24: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder calls a report of possible phone hacking targeting 9/11 victims and their families very disturbing and says the department is pursuing a preliminary criminal investigation.

Sept. 2: Long-time independent board member Thomas Perkins announces he is leaving News Corp.'s board of directors, but he cites his upcoming 80th birthday and not the scandal.

Sept. 6: Four former News International executives challenge statements made to Parliament by Rupert and James Murdoch. One says Rupert Murdoch wrongly blamed outside lawyers for improperly investigating his company's phone hacking scandal.

Oct. 21: Rupert Murdoch faces disgruntled investors at the company's annual shareholders meeting. He defends his handling of the scandal and deflects any notion that he plans to step down soon.

Oct. 24: News Corp. discloses that more than a third of the ballots cast oppose the re-election of Rupert Murdoch's sons James and Lachlan to the company's board of directors.

Nov. 1: Documents show a legal adviser to the company's newspapers warned three years earlier that there was overwhelming evidence that several senior journalists at the News of the World were using illegal methods. The documents bolster claims that high-ranking executives were aware that phone hacking was more widespread than they let on.

Nov. 10: James Murdoch returns to Parliament. He insists he hadn't been told of widespread phone hacking and blames two of his senior lieutenants for failing to warn him of a culture of criminality.

Nov. 14: Opening of a media-ethics inquiry set up by Britain's prime minister. The two-part inquiry was tasked with investigating the role of the press and police in the phone-hacking scandal.

Nov. 24: Miller, the actress, tells the media-ethics inquiry that she was left paranoid and scared by years of relentless tabloid pursuit that ranged from paparazzi outside her house to the hacking of her mobile phone.

Nov. 29 James Murdoch re-elected chairman of BSkyB.

Jan. 19, 2012: It's revealed that News International agreed to cash payouts to 37 people, including movie star Jude Law, who were harassed and phone-hacked by his tabloid press. Financial details of 15 of the payouts, totaling more than 640,000 pounds (about $1 million), are made public at a court hearing.

Feb. 8: News Corp. says net income grew by nearly two-thirds in the final three months of 2011, despite expenses related to ongoing phone hacking investigations of its U.K. newspaper unit.

Feb. 17: Following the arrests of several reporters at The Sun, Rupert Murdoch warns staff there that he won't protect reporters found to have broken the law, but he pledges unstinting support to the newspaper.

Feb. 26: The Sun launches a Sunday edition with a familiar mix of celebrity news, scantily clad women and defiant language in place of the News of the World. The next day, Rupert Murdoch tweets that the edition sold 3.26 million copies.

Feb. 29: James Murdoch steps down as executive chairman of News International. News Corp. says Murdoch will remain its deputy chief operating officer and concentrate on expanding its television business.

March 5: Reports emerge that the FBI is investigating whether a Russian billboard company once owned by News Corp. bribed local officials to get sign placements approved. The investigation grew out of the phone-hacking scandal.

March 8: Britain's Press Complaints Commission, an industry-funded regulatory body that has been called weak and ineffective by victims of the scandal, confirms it is to be abolished and replaced with a new agency.

March 9: Britain's communications regulator says it's monitoring the case to be sure that BSkyB is a fit and proper holder of a broadcasting license.

March 14: In a letter to British parliamentarians investigating the scandal, James Murdoch reiterates that he didn't know the extent of the illegal behavior, but he says "it would have been better if I had asked more questions."

April 3: James Murdoch steps down as BSkyB chairman, remains on board.

April 12: The U.K.'s police watchdog says senior members of Scotland Yard showed poor judgment in their handling of the scandal. It says senior officers in the London police force broke the rules when they hired Wallis, a former tabloid executive, to help run public relations and helped Wallis's daughter get a job.

April 23: The U.K. broadcast regulator says it's investigating email hacking at Sky News.

April 24: James Murdoch appears before a U.K. inquiry, defends his record and accuses subordinates of preventing him from making a clean sweep at News of the World.

April 25: Rupert Murdoch tells the inquiry that his globe-spanning TV and newspaper empire doesn't carry as much political sway as is often believed. Speaking softly, deliberately and with dry humor, Murdoch sought to deflate what he described as myths about his business, his agenda and his friendships with those at the pinnacle of British politics.

April 26: The elder Murdoch returns to the inquiry. He seeks to portray himself as the victim, not perpetrator, of a cover-up over phone hacking. He apologizes and notes that the corporate cleanup of the scandal had cost News Corp. hundreds of millions of dollars and transformed its culture.

May 1: A committee of British lawmakers calls Rupert Murdoch unfit to run his global media empire.

May 2: BSkyB defends itself as a "fit and proper" company amid a regulatory review. Its CEO points out that BSkyB and News Corp. are separate companies. News Corp. controls BSkyB with a 39 percent stake. Meanwhile, News Corp.'s board of directors announces it has "full confidence in Rupert Murdoch's fitness."

May 10: Coulson appears at the media ethics inquiry and denies that he got the job to boost Cameron's clout with Rupert Murdoch's powerful media empire.

May 11: Brooks testifies and reveals that Cameron commiserated with her after she quit. She also acknowledged that she used her access to lobby the British government over the BSkyB takeover deal.

May 15: Brooks, her husband and four others are charged over alleged attempts to conceal evidence. The criminal charges are the first to be filed since police launched a new inquiry in January 2011.

May 30: Coulson is arrested and charged with perjury in the trial of a flamboyant ex-Scottish lawmaker.

June 1: A lawyer for News Corp.'s British newspaper group says the company could face 500 lawsuits from victims of phone hacking — far more than have so far been filed.

June 11: Brown, the former British prime minister, accuses a Murdoch-owned tabloid of personally attacking him, failing the British people and undermining the war in Afghanistan through its coverage of the conflict. The remarks come at Britain's media ethics inquiry.

June 12: Former British Prime Minister John Major testifies that Murdoch tried to influence his government's dealings with the European Union, even hinting that the politician could lose the support of Murdoch's newspapers if he didn't change direction.

June 14: Cameron defends his ill-fated decision to make Coulson his communications director. Cameron says he had received assurances that Coulson was not involved in the phone hacking — but those proved hollow when Coulson was forced to resign last year in the scandal.

June 18: News Corp. says former U.S. Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein is relinquishing his role as head of the company's internal probe into phone hacking. He surrenders the duties to Gerson Zweifach, a company lawyer. News Corp. said the move allows Klein to return to his full-time job running its education division.

June 22: Brooks is granted bail until Sept. 26 as she awaits trial on charges of attempting to cover up evidence.

Tuesday: News Corp. says it is considering splitting into two publicly traded companies. The move comes as Britain's communications regulator enters the final stages of its review of whether BSkyB is "fit and proper" to hold a broadcast license.

Thursday: News Corp. says it plans to split into two companies, one holding its newspaper business and another its entertainment operations. Both will be publicly traded. It may take a year to work out the details.

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