James Murdoch, son of News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, has resigned from his position as Executive Chairman of News International, the company announced on Wednesday.
As Chairman and CEO of News Corp. Europe & Asia, Murdoch oversaw the company's British publishing unit while a phone hacking scandal sank one of its newspapers, the News of the World, and allegations of bribery began to plague another, the Sun.
Murdoch's father Rupert indicated more changes could be in store for his deputy COO, who recently moved to New York.
“We are all grateful for James' leadership at News International and across Europe and Asia, where he has made lasting contributions to the group's strategy in paid digital content and its efforts to improve and enhance governance programs,” Rupert Murdoch said in a statement. “[…] Now that he has moved to New York, James will continue to assume a variety of essential corporate leadership mandates, with particular focus on important pay-TV businesses and broader international operations.”
That means no publishing.
Murdoch was once seen as the undisputed heir to the News Corp. throne, but the extent of the phone hacking scandal, which caused the resignation of high-level News International figures like chief executive Rebekah Brooks, changed that perception. It also led to questions about what Murdoch knew — and when.
Former News International executives Tom Crone and Colin Myler have testified in front of Parliament that Murdoch was aware his employees had hacked into civilians' phones well before he has admitted to. Murdoch has steadfastly denied those charges.
Murdoch has tesified before Parliament about phone hacking twice, once with his father in July and once on his own in November. On each occasion, he insisted he was ignorant of the extent of hacking and that he did not authorize payments to hacking victims to silence them.
The scandal at the News of the World, as well as the arrests of several journalists from another British tabloid, The Sun, have caused some to wonder why News Corp. doesn't just shutter its U.K. publishing business. Yet Rupert Murdoch has doubled down on it, launching the Sun on Sunday this past weekend.
"With the successful launch of The Sun on Sunday and new business practices in place across all titles, News International is now in a strong position to build on its successes in the future. As Deputy Chief Operating Officer, I look forward to expanding my commitment to News Corporation’s international television businesses and other key initiatives across the Company,” James Murdoch said in a statement.
News International CEO Tom Mockridge will run the company for now.