James Murdoch steps down as BSkyB chairman
LONDON (AP) — Media executive JamesMurdoch, under pressure over his role in Britain’s tabloid phone-hacking scandal, has stepped down as chairman of British Sky Broadcasting PLC, the company announced Tuesday.
It was the latest setback for Mr. Murdoch, 39, a top executive in his father, RupertMurdoch‘s,News Corp. global media empire. James Murdoch — the former head of his father’s British newspaper division — has been facing severe criticism as a result of the phone-hacking scandal that brought down the company’s News of the World tabloid in Britain and led to the arrests of scores of its journalists.
“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 organization,” he said.
“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 Corp. shareholders,” they said.
JamesMurdoch quit as chairman of News International, News Corp.’s British newspaper division in February. At the time, he indicated he was going to concentrate on managing parts of his father’s extensive television businesses.
He also has stepped down from the boards of the auction firm Sotheby’s and the prominent pharmaceutical manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline PLC but remains deputy chief operating officer of News Corp. and chairman and CEO, international, at the company.
JamesMurdoch previously was widely thought to be the heir to his father’s media empire, and the proposed takeover of BSkyB would have boosted his profile as well as given News Corp. full control of a lucrative broadcaster with an extensive sports and news franchise.
Rupert Murdoch shut down the News of the World tabloid in July amid a wave of bad publicity and plummeting ad revenue because of revelations that its journalists regularly had listened to the phone voice mails of celebrities, politicians and crime victims in a quest for scoops. The scandal has spawned several major police investigations into the conduct of the elder Mr. Murdoch‘s media empire, as well as a judge-led public inquiry into press ethics. Scores of Murdoch journalists have been arrested, and top Murdoch executives have resigned in the scandal.
Rupert Murdoch‘s companies have paid millions of pounds to settle lawsuits from about 60 hacking victims, including actor Jude Law, soccer star Ashley Cole and singer Charlotte Church.