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James Murdoch quits BSkyB chair

Tuesday, Apr 03, 2012 - 02:18

April 3 - James Murdoch resigned as chairman of BSkyB to prevent his links to a phone-hacking scandal that has convulsed his father Rupert's media empire undermining the pay TV group. Matt Cowan reports.

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James Murdoch is stepping down as chairman of the British pay TV company BSkyB. The son of News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch has been under fire for his handling of a phone hacking scandal that engulfed the group's UK newspaper operation News International. In a statement he acknowledged his position had the potential to become a lightening rod for the company Reuters BreakingViews editor Hugo Dixon says BSkyB may indeed be better off. SOUNDBITE: Hugo Dixon, Reuters BreakingViews Editor saying (English): "Look, there are two reasons. First connected to the hacking and bribery scandal at the Murdochs' UK newspapers, although that is a completely different business from BSkyB James Murdoch has been tainted by that scandal because he didn't grip it hard enough and he's become so distracted and there's a torrent of bad publcity and he ceased being an asset for BSkyB. The second reason is...in normal companies it is better all other things being equal to have an independant chairman, rather than a chairman who's speaking for the largest shareholder." Murdoch's conduct is under scrutiny by a powerful parliamentary committee that is expected to deliver a critical report soon, as well as by the UK TV regulator and a judge-led inquiry into press ethics. Media commentator Steve Hewlett says Murdoch's move comes as a little surprise. SOUNDBITE: Steve Hewlett, Media Commentator saying (English): "He's facing a report from the parliamentary committee into Culture, Media and Sport. It's been looking at phone hacking for years now. The at which he and his father appeared and Rupert said "the humblest day in my life. He was waiting for that report which was either going to say that he knew more than he was letting on about phone hacking. I don't think they'll say that because I don't think the evidence is there to support it, or at the very least they're going to say that he may not have know but he really should have done. So he's either a naif or a fool and the problem in that sense is that he's chairman in a public company, BSkyB, 61 percent owned by people other than BSkyB and his situation then clearly starts to become untenable. There's a twist in this, in that he's played no small part in making BSkyB as successful as it is." James Murdoch will remain on the board of BSkyB. He's being replaced as chairman by Nicholas Ferguson who was previously deputy chairman. Matt Cowan, Reuters

James Murdoch quits BSkyB chair

Tuesday, Apr 03, 2012 - 02:18

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