James Murdoch to boss News Corp's US TV despite criticism

Sep 21, 2012

After Ofcom slammed Murdoch Jr's management credentials at BSkyB, it emerges he is to take over Fox Networks Group

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JAMES MURDOCH is being lined up to take direct responsibility for News Corp's US television businesses - excluding Fox News. The news comes the day after UK media regulator Ofcom damned his record as boss of News International, saying that he "repeatedly fell short of the conduct to be expected of him as a chief executive officer and chairman".

According to the Financial Times, senior management at Fox Networks Group will report directly to the younger Murdoch, currently the deputy chief operating officer at the company.

But The Daily Telegraph suggests Ofcom's criticism could stymie Murdoch's progress up the ranks at News Corp, as well as threaten his existing positions, and serves to bar him from taking the helm of any public company in which his family does not effectively control.

"A board would have a very tough time ignoring these concerns," Professor Charles Elson told the paper. "Never say never, but I don't think that sort of finding will make it easy for him to progress."

Though he has already stepped down as chairman of News International and BSkyB, the shareholder group Pirc says Murdoch should now abandon his position as a non-executive director.

"Given that he continues to be a focus for severe criticism, it's difficult to see the net benefit shareholders gain from his continued presence on the boards of either News Corp or BSkyB," said a spokesman.

"There were several opportunities for him to dig deeper and address the failings at the News of the World, and he missed every one of them."

Though Ofcom found no criminal wrongdoing within the Murdoch clan - only a poor "attitude to wrongdoing" - this is not necessarily the last word on the matter, says an FT editorial.

The watchdog has explicitly reserved its final decision, pending the conclusion of criminal prosecutions and the findings of the Leveson inquiry. The LA Times reports there is no time frame for Murdoch to take over Fox Networks, and the company will likely wait for of criminal and civil probes to conclude.

But even if Murdoch is handed the new role, control of two of News Corp's most precious TV assets, the Fox News Channel and 27 television stations that reach about 40 per cent of the US will continue to report to Roger Ailes. The powerful chairman of Fox News reports directly to Rupert Murdoch, 81.

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