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News Corp. defends James Murdoch

September 20, 2012|By Meg James
  • In file picture from March 18, 2010, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, left, with son James Murdoch at the Cheltenham Festival. Britain's media regulator Ofcom on Thursday allowed BSkyB to keep its broadcasting licenses but dished out harsh criticism of James Murdoch.
In file picture from March 18, 2010, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, left, with… (Adrian Dennis )

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. expressed gratitude over a British regulators’ finding that the company remains a "fit and proper" holder of a broadcast license, but it vigorously defended the mogul's youngest son's actions while running the British arm of the sprawling operation.

The media regulatory agency, known as Ofcom, on Thursday harshly criticized James Murdoch, the former head of the satellite television giant British Sky Broadcasting, for his weak response to the phone-hacking scandal that consumed the media conglomerate's London-based newspapers.  Ofcom said the younger Murdoch "repeatedly fell short of the conduct to be expected of him as a chief executive officer and chairman" of News International, the British arm of his father’s giant News Corp.

"We are pleased that Ofcom recognizes 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," News Corp. said in a statement.

"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," the statement continued.

"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. 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 honored to play a role in the many contributions it makes to Britain, its people, and its economy."

News Corp. controls nearly 40% of BSkyB, and was in pursuit of the entire operation when the phone-hacking scandal forced the company to abandon its $12-billion bid last year. The scandal ultimately led to News Corp. closing its century-old News of the World tabloid paper.

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James Murdoch resigns as BSkyB chairman

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