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Rupert Murdoch resigns

Rupert Murdoch has resigned from a string of directorships controlling his News Corporation’s UK newspapers. At 81, he quit directorships at NI Group Ltd, NewsCorp Investments and Times Newspaper Holdings on Friday.

In a statement sent to all staff, News International said the resignation was “nothing more than a housecleaning exercise prior to the company split”. “Don’t buy it,” advises Newsweek’s Howard Kurtz, writing on The Daily Beast.

Kurtz says that in stepping down, Murdoch Sr is “following a path traced by his son, James, who was badly damaged in the [phone hacking] scandal”. Murdoch resigned from his News International directorships last autumn – “and then resigned as chairman”.

Kurtz says Murdoch Sr’s move may be “an attempt to appease his critics, protect his base or lay the groundwork for an exit strategy” He concludes: “Rupert Murdoch does not relinquish positions of power on both sides of the Atlantic as some sort of bureaucratic housecleaning.”

A statement said the 81-year-old had stepped down from the board, and the boards of a number of other subsidiaries, as part of a plan to split his media empire in two: a largely US-based group of entertainment “assets” including 20th Century Fox and Fox TV and a publishing wing comprising UK, Australian and US newspapers and books.

News Corp. is a world-spanning empire, with properties and divisions in multiple continents and just about every form of media distribution and production, from Australian daily papers to the Fox News Channel. The big-name properties in the publishing company will be newspapers like The Wall Street Journal, The Times of London, and the New York Post, along with HarperCollins, the book publisher. The entertainment company will house such business like Fox News, Twentieth Century Fox (the movie studio), the Fox broadcast network, and News Corp.’s 39.1 percent controlling share of British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB)

When the phone-hacking scandal broke last July, News Corp. was in the process of completely taking over BSkyB, and turning its 39.1 percents share into a 100 percent share. James Murdoch, Rupert’s son, was chairman of the broadcaster at the time. That effort was scuttled, however, last year when the fallout from the scandal engulfing Murdoch’s papers made it politically impossible to continue with the takeover. When News Corp. announced it was abandoning the takeover in July of last year, the BBC described it as a “huge humiliation” and an “ extraordinary reversal of corporate fortune.” In April of this year, James Murdoch resigned as chairman of BSkyB after resigning about a month earlier as chairman of News International, the publisher of The Sun and The Times.

(source: theweek.co.uk, thedailybeast.com, BBC News)
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