April 3, 2012

BSkyB quotes James Murdoch in its announcement that he is stepping down as chairman of the company:

“As attention continues to be paid to past events at News International, I am determined that the interests of BSkyB should not be undermined by matters outside the scope of this company.” He added: “I am aware that my role as chairman could become a lightning rod for BSkyB and I believe that my resignation will help to ensure that there is no false conflation with events at a separate organisation.”

Murdoch will remain a non-executive director of the company, which spurred this reaction from Louise Rouse, whose firm FairPensions advocates responsible investments by fund managers:

“Any suggestion that Mr Murdoch will remain as a director of BSkyB will likely be challenged by investors. While people should have the opportunity to learn from their failings, it is a big ask of shareholders for him to expect that a FTSE 100 boardroom is the appropriate classroom.”

The Guardian is live-blogging the news.

News Corp., which owns about 39 percent of BSkyB, pulled its bid to buy the remaining portion of the company after the phone-hacking scandal exploded last July. “It has become clear that it is too difficult to progress in this climate,” News Corp. chief operating officer and president Chase Carey said in a statement at the time.

Reading between the lines

News Corp. has issued a joint statement from Carey and Rupert Murdoch thanking James Murdoch for his work. But how should it be interpreted? All Things D’s Peter Kafka writes that the company “is making a show of publicly backing” Murdoch. The Guardian’s take is decidedly more negative: “That it’s a joint statement is very surprising. And the language is hardly warm. It just says ‘we are grateful’ for James Murdoch’s work.”

In recent weeks Murdoch has resigned from the boards of GlaxoSmithKline and Sotheby’s. He left his post as head of News Corp.’s News International in February.

Related: Investment firm calls on News Corp. to appoint independent chairman (Reuters)

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Steve Myers was the managing editor of Poynter.org until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens,…
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