James Murdoch Turns Down $6 Million Bonus, Citing PhoneGate

Published on September 2, 2011
by Peter Kafka

News Corp. executive James Murdoch says he’ll decline a $6 million bonus the company gave him for his performance in its last fiscal year, citing the ongoing PhoneGate scandal.

Murdoch, who is Deputy Chief Operating Officer and until recently has been seen as the heir apparent to his father Rupert Murdoch, has also been one of the primary focal points during the scandal. He has been in charge of News Corp.’s British newspaper unit that has been accused of widespread, systemic phonetapping and other charges (News Corp. also owns this Web site).

Here’s his statement:

In light of the current controversy surrounding News of the World, I have declined the bonus that the company chose to award to me. While the financial and operating performance metrics on which the bonus decision was based are not associated with this matter, I feel that declining the bonus is the right thing to do.  I will consult with the Compensation Committee in the future about whether any bonus may be appropriate at a later date.

Murdoch is keeping the rest of his compensation, which includes a base salary of $3 million, $8.3 million in stock awards and other benefits including personal use of the company’s aircraft, which the filing values at $224,864 for the fiscal year.

In News Corp.’s annual proxy statement, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission today, the company said it considered the following factors in awarding him his $6 million bonus:

“Mr. J.R. Murdoch played an important role during fiscal 2011 in developing the Company’s key businesses and investments in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, including the development of the Company’s content and distribution strategy. He led the success of STAR India, which delivers market-leading content, and he led the Company’s ongoing deployment of satellite television in Italy (with Sky Italia achieving its highest ever subscriber base), the UK, Germany and India, where we operate, or are key investors in, industry-leading pay television platforms. Under his leadership, the Company expanded its presence in the Middle East through a key strategic partnership and optimized its European asset portfolio through the disposition of News Outdoor. Mr. J.R. Murdoch also successfully transitioned into his new role as Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Chairman and CEO, International, expanding his responsibilities.”

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