Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

News Corp. Still Backing James Murdoch

News Corp. is making a show of publicly backing James Murdoch, its deputy chief operating officer, after he stepped down as chairman of BSkyB.

Here’s the full statement the company (which also owns this Web site) just released:

“We are grateful for James Murdoch’s successful leadership of BSkyB. He has played a major role in propelling the company into the market-leading position it enjoys today — and in the process has been instrumental in creating substantial value for News Corporation shareholders. We look forward to BSkyB’s continued growth under the leadership of Nicholas Ferguson and Jeremy Darroch and to James’ continued substantial contributions at News Corporation.”

Murdoch is one of News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch’s sons and was, until recently, considered the likely candidate to run the company one day. But since the long-simmering phone-hacking scandal erupted last summer his reputation has been battered, and he has given up a series of leadership posts in the Murdoch empire. Last summer, he refused a $6 million bonus, citing the controversy, but kept the rest of his $11.3 million News Corp. pay package.

And here’s the BSkyB statement announcing Murdoch’s departure:

The Board of British Sky Broadcasting Group plc (‘BSkyB’ or ‘the Company’) today announced that James Murdoch has stepped down as Chairman and will continue to serve in his capacity as a Non-Executive Director of the Company.

Mr 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.

In a letter to the Board setting out the reasons for his resignation, Mr Murdoch said: “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.”

Mr Murdoch continued: “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.” He added: “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.”

Mr 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.”


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald