Rupert Murdoch will fly to London this week in a bid to quell the crisis threatening The Sun after five staff at his flagship British tabloid were arrested over bribery allegations, sources said on February 12.
The Australian-born media baron has, according to his pointman in Britain, given a "personal assurance" that The Sun will not face the same fate as the News of the World, which he closed in July amid a scandal over phone hacking.
But the new storm over alleged payments by Sun journalists to police and public officials in exchange for information has sparked fears that it may be too late to save Britain's biggest selling newspaper.
The US-based Murdoch will come to London "later in the week", a person familiar with the matter told AFP. The person said Murdoch's visit had already been planned before the arrests happened.
Another source close to the matter said he would meet with journalists at The Sun, Britain's biggest selling newspaper.
News International, the British newspaper arm of his global News Corporation empire, would not comment on the trip. Murdoch himself has not made any comment despite being an avid user of the social networking website Twitter.
The Sun journalists arrested on February 11 were deputy editor Geoff Webster, picture editor John Edwards, chief reporter John Kay, chief foreign correspondent Nick Parker and reporter John Sturgis.
A Ministry of Defence official, a member of the armed forces and a policeman were also arrested over allegations that journalists paid officials for information. All eight were later released on bail.
In an email to staff on Saturday, News International chief executive Tom Mockridge said that Murdoch would stand by The Sun in the hour of its "greatest challenge".
"You should know that I have had a personal assurance today from Rupert Murdoch about his total commitment to continue to own and publish The Sun newspaper," Mockridge said.
A News International spokeswoman said: "The statement sets out News Corporation and Rupert's position and support for News International and The Sun."
The arrests were part of a widening Scotland Yard probe into alleged corrupt payments, and come a fortnight after another four current and former Sun journalists were arrested over similar allegations.
British media reported that many journalists at The Sun were furious over the so-called "witch-hunt", and at the fact that News Corp. had handed over the information to police that led to the arrests.
US-based News Corp. set up the Management and Standards Committee, an independent committee, last year to investigate wrongdoing at Murdoch's British papers.
Commentators said News Corp. would be keen to stop its operations in the United States and other countries from being contaminated by the problems at the The Sun and the News of the World.
The Observer -- the weekly sister paper of the Guardian which led investigations into hacking -- said there were fears in News Corp that the British bribery allegations could trigger an investigation by US authorities under legislation prohibiting corrupt payments to foreign officials.
The Sun has become Murdoch's flagship British newspaper since he bought it in 1969, selling around 2.5 million copies a day with its diet of sex and scandal.
Murdoch flew over to London in a hail of publicity in July after the 168-year-old News of the World was shut down when it emerged it had hacked the phones of crime victims, politicians, royals and celebrities.
In July, police arrested Rebekah Brooks, the former News International chief executive, and Andy Coulson, a former News of the World editor who went on to become spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron.
They were questioned both over phone-hacking and over corrupt payments.
The scandal also raised questions about the Murdoch empire's influence on politicians and police, and claims that police failed to properly investigate led to the resignations of the chief of Scotland Yard and one of his deputies.