James Murdoch has officially stepped down as executive chairman of News International newspapers in the UK and appears to be severing his links with publishing to concentrate on News Corp’s TV businesses.
News Corp has confirmed that Murdoch, the son of Rupert Murdoch, will no longer chair the board at the group that includes companies publishing The Times and the Sun.
Murdoch will, however, remain chairman of pay-TV giant Sky, and is also in charge of News Corp’s operations outside of North America as Deputy COO.
The announcement follows fresh revelations linking the Sun to corrupt payments made to public servants and a series of high-profile settlements with celebrities whose voicemails had been hacked by private investigators working for the News of the World, which was closed by News International at the height of the hacking scandal during the summer of 2011. He endured a torrid time at parliamentary enquiries and has disputed claims from the paper’s executives that he was aware of the hacking activities.
Ironically, News International launched a Sunday version of the Sun on February 26 to fill the market void created by the News of the World closure.
Murdoch’s father Rupert suggested further changes were in store for his son. “We are all grateful for James’ leadership at News International and across Europe and Asia, where he has made lasting contributions to the group’s strategy in paid digital content and its efforts to improve and enhance governance programmes,” said a statement. “He has demonstrated leadership and continues to create great value at Star TV, Sky Deutschland, Sky Italia, and BSkyB. Now that he has moved to New York, James will continue to assume a variety of essential corporate leadership mandates, with particular focus on important pay-TV businesses and broader international operations.”
A statement from James Murdoch said: “I deeply appreciate the dedication of my many talented colleagues at News International who work tirelessly to inform the public and am confident about the tremendous momentum we have achieved under the leadership of my father and Tom Mockridge.”
He added that with the successful launch of The Sun on Sunday and new business practices in place across all titles, News International was now in a strong position to build on its successes in the future. “As Deputy Chief Operating Officer, I look forward to expanding my commitment to News Corporation’s international television businesses and other key initiatives across the Company,” he said