News Corp.'s shareholders will meet Friday in Los Angeles to decide whether or not to re-elect the company's board, and most analysts see the result as a foregone conclusion.
Though shareholders and advisory firms have suggested removing certain board members — and one firm even advocated replacing CEO Rupert Murdoch along with 12 others — the Murdochs still hold 40 percent if the voting rights.
While few believe Murdoch or his sons will be kicked off the board, a front page story in the New York Times Wednesday raises a new round of doubts about whether any of Murdoch's children could succeed him.
Relying on several sources close to the situation, the Times' Jeremy Peters details a long-standing rift between Rupert and his son James, the youngest of Rupert's children but also the most likely to succeed him.
That rift only deepened this summer with the escalation of the phone-hacking scandal at News Corp.'s British tabloid, the News of the World, which falls under James' purview as chairman and CEO of News Corp. Europe and Asia.
Investigations continue to raise questions about what James knew, and former employees have since accused him of misleading Parliament. Peters' story suggests that if James did know more than he has let on, he could be subject to criminal investigations for payments he made to settle legal disputes centered around the hacking.
If James' is not in position to take over for his father, who is now 80, is there any Murdoch who can?
Once Rupert's eldest son Lachlan left the company in 2005 due to disputes with executives like Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and former News Corp. President and COO Peter Chernin, he stepped off the succession chart.
The onus to lead the company fell on James and his sister Elisabeth because their elder sister Prudence had evinced no interest in the company. With Elisabeth focused on TV production, James rose through the ranks, eventually reaching the position of Chairman and CEO of News Corp. Europe & Asia.
That left James with a great deal of responsibility, but also meant that if something went wrong he would be in line to take the blame. Despite much success during his tenure, especially with British broadcaster BSkyB, James finally ran into trouble this summer with the hacking scandal.
The immediate succession plan involves COO Chase Carey, but that may not please the senior Murdoch, a man of tradition and family.