So should James Murdoch remain as a director of BSkyB or should he go?
On one level, it is an easy story for shareholders: the dividend of £353m plus the share buyback of £750m adds up to a nine per cent payout to investors of the company’s market cap of £12bn. Murdoch also has a good relationship with BSkyB’s chief executive Jeremy Darroch and has worked with the independent directors for eight years.
In addition, Murdoch has assured the board that he can devote sufficient time to the role, given his executive role at News Corp, and Darroch has confirmed that Murdoch has been fully available, as required, since the end of News Corp’s bid process this summer for the 61 per cent of BSkyB it doesn’t already own.
However, in the event News Corp eventually comes back with a second bid to own BSkyB outright, some shareholders would feel more comfortable with an independent chairman at the helm.
And, of course, the question-mark over Murdoch’s integrity following the hacking scandal could affect BSkyB’s reputation and – more importantly – sales. The share price has so far been stable since the scandal broke in July, and deputy chairman Nick Ferguson claims he has seen “no negative effect internally”. Whether this will remain the case as the Leveson inquiry unfolds, however, is far from guaranteed.