By Jack Mirkinson in the USA:
The Huffington Post
02/29/12 09:15 AM ET
James Murdoch has stepped down as executive chairman of News International, the British arm of News Corp., the company announced Wednesday. Murdoch, who was once seen as the heir apparent to his father Rupert at the head of News Corp., has now lost a key position within the company.
News Corp. cast the move as stemming from James’ recent relocation to New York from London, and Rupert Murdoch said his son would “continue to assume a variety of essential corporate leadership mandates.” He will also remain as the deputy COO of News Corp. But the reshuffling will be widely seen as a reflection of James’ deeply diminished stature following wave after wave of damaging allegations about his complicity in News Corp.’s still-simmering phone hacking scandal.
James has long denied having any knowledge of the widespread nature of phone hacking within the News of the World tabloid. But a series of testimonies and released documents have put him ever-closer to a crucial 2008 meeting in which the former editor and legal director of the paper have sworn he was informed that criminality had been out of control within the organization. James was even sent a memo detailing the extent of phone hacking within the NOTW, but has stated he did not scroll down enough on his BlackBerry to read it.
As the allegations mounted against him, James’ stock within News Corp. plummeted. Whereas it had been assumed that he was the natural successor to his father, Rupert Murdoch began stressing the power and influence of his COO, Chase Carey. Independent shareholders also voted, by a large margin, to oust him from the News Corp. board.
James’ departure leaves News International — once the key building block in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, and still a wing of his company he treasures deeply — without any member of the Murdoch family involved on its masthead. It also maintains News International’s status as the most troubled, and trouble-making, part of News Corp. In the last year, the subsidiary has become a gloomy focal point for the company, even as overall News Corp. revenues have hummed along.
Metropolitan Police officers arrested Sun defence editor Virginia Wheeler today in their Operation Elveden probe into bungs to coppers from journalists. Ms Wheeler, 32, was quizzed at a south London police station about evidence handed over by News International’s standards committee: here.
Rebekah Brooks borrowed her Scotland Yard horse after discussing
it over lunch with Britain’s top officer, an inquiry heard today. Former commissioner Lord Blair said he had been dining with the ex-News International chief executive before she called the force’s media chief to request the loan: here.
The Corporate Media Crisis: Everything Old Is New Again: here.