James Murdoch, who has now testified before Parliament twice about the phone hacking scandal tainting his father Rupert’s media empire, seems to be distancing himself from the U.K. newspaper business.
It emerged on Wednesday that Murdoch, son of News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, has stepped down from the boards of the parent companies of the Sun and the Times – two prominent British dailies. The Sun, a tabloid, has the largest circulation of any newspaper in the U.K.
Murdoch is still the chairman of News International, News Corp.’s U.K. publishing arm, but he resigned in September as director of News Group Newspapers.
For its part, News Corp. said this is a matter of simple housekeeping, issuing the following statement:
"Following the appointment of Tom Mockridge as CEO of News International, in September James Murdoch stepped down from the boards of a number of News International subsidiary companies including News Group Newspapers (NGN) and Times Newspapers Ltd (TNL). He remains Chairman of NI Group Ltd (News International) and a director of Times Newspapers Holdings Ltd (TNHL), the holding company of Times Newspapers."
Still, NGN not only owns the Sun, but it also owned the News of the World – the British tabloid that News Corp. shuttered as a result of the phone hacking scandal. NGN is involved in a series of lawsuits related to alleged phone hacking.
Murdoch has also resigned from the board of Times Newspapers Limited, home to the Times and Sunday Times.
Murdoch, the company’s deputy COO and Chairman and CEO of its international operations, is in the process of moving from London to New York.
Though he remains the chairman of the board of British Sky Broadcasting – a position he is likely to retain after a shareholder vote on Nov. 29 – the resignations would seem to place further distance between him and the day-to-day operations of the company’s British newspapers.
Murdoch has come under fire throughout the phone hacking scandal, his professed ignorance of the hacking interpreted by some as either a sign of executive negligence or deceit.
From a financial perspective, the newspaper business is a small part of the News Corp. empire, but it remains dear to Rupert.