The Independent reports that Rupert Murdoch (pictured, Reuters) told The Sun to get its “act together” and do more to stop Labour winning the election.
The Sun has responded to the report by saying that its political coverage is informed by how Labour policies affect its readers.
The News Corp chairman – who owns The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times – visited London at the end of February, and reportedly warned journalists on his tabloid newspaper of the threat a Labour government would have on the company.
Last week, in its manifesto, Labour pledged to ensure that no “one media owner should be able to exert undue influence on public opinion and policy makers”.
It said: “No media company should have so much power that those who run it believe themselves above the rule of law.” This appears to be a reference to the News UK (the UK's biggest national newspaper publisher) and the hacking scandal.
In June 2013, Labour deputy leader and shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman said that the party did not address media plurality in 1997 for fear of losing the election. But she said: "We're in different times now."
The Independent today reports that Murdoch told journalists on The Sun that the future of the company depended on stopping Ed Miliband from being the next prime minister.
He reportedly instructed them to be more aggressive in attacks against Labour and more positive about the Conservative Party.
According to The Independent, Murdoch “made his views clear” on a visit to London at the end of February, when he is said to have met senior Tories, including chief whip and former Times journalist Michael Gove.
On 26 February, Gove was present at a News UK event promoting its News Academy for young, aspiring journalists. On the same day, Boris Johnson attended a dinner hosted by Murdoch, according to the Conservative London mayor’s register of gifts and hospitality.
The Independent quoted a source as saying: “Rupert made it very clear he was unhappy with The Sun’s coverage of the election. He basically said the future of the company was at stake and they need to get their act together.”
A Sun spokesman said: “As has always been the case, The Sun’s political coverage is informed by how the political parties approach the issues that matter most to our readers.
"The Labour Party has been weak on tackling the deficit, weak on immigration, weak on fracking and opposes giving the country a referendum on the EU.
"If Ed Miliband wants to ignore the concerns of Sun readers we feel it is our responsibility to reflect that decision.”