News Corp deputy chief operating officer James Murdoch is set to take over the company’s US television operations, including broadcast net Fox, according to the Financial Times.
This comes a day after UK media regulator Ofcom declared News Corp-backed UK satcaster BSkyB “fit and proper” to hold a local broadcasting licence but at the same time slammed its former chairman.
The report was critical of Murdoch’s handling of the News Corp phone-hacking scandal, saying his behaviour was “ill-judged” and “repeatedly fell short” of his duties. He was, however, cleared him of any direct wrongdoing
His father Rupert, News Corp’s chairman and CEO, is now lining up an expanded role for James at Fox Network Group (FNG), which houses Fox and cablenet FX, the FT reported. News Corp is preparing to split its business into separate filmed entertainment and publishing operations in the wake of the scandal.
A new structure would see FNG’s current chief Peter Rice report into Murdoch Jnr. The FT reported Murdoch Jnr had campaigned for the role to be announced upon Rice’s promotion to CEO and chairman but Murdoch Snr and News Corp chief operating officer Chase Carey resisted.
However, the FT’s sources differed on how close the move is to fruition, with one claiming it was a done deal and another saying News Corp would wait for more evidence to emerge from London, where the phone hacking scandal is centered, before deciding.
News Corp expanded president of entertainment Kevin Reilly’s role as chairman of entertainment last month.
Today’s news comes after News Corp yesterday welcomed Ofcom’s decision over BSkyB’s credentials as a UK broadcaster.
“We are pleased that Ofcom recognises BSkyB as a fit and proper holder of a broadcast license and remain proud of both News Corporation’s and James Murdoch’s distinguished record in facilitating the transformation of Sky into Britain’s leading pay television and home communications provider.
“We are also pleased that Ofcom determined that the evidence related to phone-hacking, concealment and corruption does not provide any basis to conclude that News Corporation and Rupert Murdoch acted in a way that was inappropriate, and that there is similarly no evidence that James Murdoch deliberately engaged in any wrongdoing.”
But it criticised Ofcom’s findings on Murdoch Jnr’s actions during the phone hacking scandal, which the regulator claimed, “repeatedly fell short of the conduct to be expected as a chief executive officer and chairman.”
“We disagree, however, with certain of the report’s statements about James Murdoch’s prior actions as an executive and director, which are not at all substantiated by evidence,” News Corp’s statement read. “As Ofcom itself acknowledged, James deserves credit for his role as chief executive, then chairman and now non-executive director, in leading Sky to an outstanding record as a broadcaster, including its excellent compliance record.
“We look forward to Sky’s continuing to execute on its mission to provide viewers with the best television experience imaginable, and are honoured to play a role in the many contributions it makes to Britain, its people, and its economy.”