BSkyB said today that Murdoch jr, its boss of the last four years, was stepping down to take up a new role as chairman and chief executive of News Corp Europe and Asia. This means he’ll be in charge of News International, publisher of The Times and The Sun, as well as Sky Italia and the Star television business.
According to MT’s sources, one of his main priorities will be to improve the company’s carbon footprint in China and India. Growing up in the Murdoch family, he’ll be used to big challenges – but taking on the new economic superpowers over global warming is a big ask even for a man of his undoubted talents.
When Murdoch jr took the top job at Sky four years ago, the move was inevitably greeted with suspicion that he only got the gig because of Daddy. But since then he seems to have managed to prove the doubters wrong, moving into broadband and telecoms, beefing up its marketing efforts and even giving £1.8bn back to happy shareholders.
This latest move – which has presumably been in the offing for some time – clearly positions James as the heir apparent to his dad’s media empire (let’s hope big brother Lachlan isn’t too miffed about this). Indeed, the succession process has already begun: although James is giving up the day job at Sky, he’s taking over from Dad as non-executive chairman (albeit the term ‘non-executive’ tends to apply fairly loosely if your name’s Murdoch…)
It’s just one aspect of a big shake-up at News Corp, as Murdoch snr looks to integrate his new £5bn toy Dow Jones and pave the way for his succession. News International chairman Les Hinton becomes chief executive of Dow Jones, replacing Richard Zannino, while Times editor Robert Thomson becomes the new publisher of The Wall Street Journal. And to complete the musical chairs, current BSkyB CFO Jeremy Darroch is stepping up to replace James.
MT secured a world exclusive interview with Murdoch jr earlier this year – the only major one he’s given during his time at Sky. Click here to read our in-depth profile.