It has been confirmed James Murdoch is to step down as Chairman of BSkyB. Following earlier media reports that he had decided to stand down, the BSkyB board confirmed mid-afternoon that Murdoch had resigned as Chairman and would continue to serve in his capacity as a Non-Executive Director of the Company.
Murdoch is succeeded as Chairman of BSkyB by Nicholas Ferguson, who was appointed as a Director of the Company in June 2004 and previously served as Deputy Chairman and Senior Independent Non-Executive Director. Tom Mockridge, who joined the Board in February 2009, has been appointed as Deputy Chairman. Andrew Higginson, who has been a Director of BSkyB since September 2004, succeeds Nicholas Ferguson as Senior Independent Non-Executive Director.
Ferguson commented: “On behalf of the entire Board, I would like to thank James Murdoch for the outstanding contribution he has made both as CEO and Chairman of BSkyB. With his vision, drive and strategic insight, the Company has performed exceptionally and continues to transform itself to take advantage of a broader growth opportunity in home entertainment and communications. The Board’s support for James and belief in his integrity remain strong. We understand his decision to step aside at this time and we both welcome and look forward to his continued contribution as a non-executive director. The entire Board and management remain fully focused on maintaining BSkyB’s strong progress, delivering an outstanding service for customers and creating value for all shareholders.”
Murdoch wrote to the Board of BSkyB explaining his decision to stand down:
As you know, my actions as a Director of BSkyB have been governed at all times by what is in the best interests of the Company, its customers and its shareholders. I have been privileged to serve first as Chief Executive and then as Chairman of this outstanding company and I am proud of what we have achieved over this period. We have invested to create choice for many millions of customers, grown our contribution to life in the UK and significantly increased returns for shareholders.
I have now decided that this is the right time for me to step aside as Chairman and, with the support of the Board and shareholders, continue to serve the Company as a Non-Executive Director. As attention continues to be paid to past events at News International, I am determined that the interests of BSkyB should not be undermined by matters outside the scope of this Company.
I have been transparent in my evidence and have behaved ethically at all times. However, there continues to be extensive and voluminous commentary around these matters. I am aware that my role as Chairman could become a lightning rod for BSkyB and I believe that my resignation will help to ensure that there is no false conflation with events at a separate organisation.
BSkyB is a great success story and its positive contribution to British broadcasting, and to the country more broadly, should not be questioned. With a strong Board and outstanding management team, I am confident that the Company will achieve even more in the future. I look forward to making a continued contribution in my role as a Non-Executive Director.”
Murdoch was appointed chairman of BSkyB in December 2007, so has spent just over four years in the role. He was formerly chief executive of BSkyB between February 2003 and December 2007. News Corp owns 39 per cent of the company and failed in a bid to take control as a result of the newspaper scandal.
Ofcom is currently performing a ‘fit and proper’ test on whether Sky is qualified to hold a broadcasting licence.