James Murdoch steps down as BSkyB chair

Mini media mogul James Murdoch has resigned as chairman of BSkyB amid ongoing Hackgate scrutiny. But he's still a big cheese at the broadcaster; he remains on the board after all.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
In a statement on Tuesday, James Murdoch announced his resignation from the BSkyB chairmanship, saying that he did not want the negative attention directed at him to taint the firm he served. ‘I am aware that my role as chairman could become a lightning rod for BSkyB,’ he explained, ‘and I believe that my resignation will help to ensure that there is no false conflation with events at a separate organisation.’ So Hackgate is still claiming scalps in the Murdoch empire.

Back in February, James Murdoch stepped down as chairman of News International, publisher of the News of the World, in an attempt to douse the flames of wrath surrounding his stewardship of the title. It didn’t work. He then moved to New York to try and distance him self from the debacle. Still, no dice. And now, it’s clear that poor James is the proverbial albatross around BSkyB’s neck.

Last summer, News Corp was forced to drop its bid for BSkyB following the revelations of corruption and malpractice at NotW, destroying a potentially lucrative deal for all parties. And the whole thing is still raising a stink.

Here’s why.

The Select Committee is gearing up to release its findings on the hacking scandal, Murdoch the Younger has wisely decided to jump before he can be further tarred and feathered by the furore. Not that MT is suggesting that James Murdoch has any prior knowledge of what will be in the upcoming report. Heaven forfend. But there’s no doubt that the issue will rise to prominence in the media again as soon as the dossier hits news desks.  

Nevertheless, his influence at BSkyB has not waned entirely. News Corp still own 39% of the business. And James is still on the board, looking after his family’s interests. However, it’s clear that any further machinations at the firm will have to take place firmly behind the scenes to protect the broadcaster from further censure.

And he’s not the only Murdoch having a tough day. This morning, shareholders at News Corp were baying for Rupert Murdoch’s blood, demanding that he give up his chair.

How the mighty fall. But anyone looking forward to a Murdoch-free British media scene should be careful about what they wish for. Without them, there might not be much left...

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