James Murdoch eyes promotion despite critics

JAMES Murdoch will be given more responsibility over News Corp’s US television operations more than a year after he became a central figure in the company’s telephone hacking scandal in the UK, two sources familiar with the matter said.

News of the promotion comes on the heels of a ruling earlier yesterday that BSkyB is fit and proper to hold a broadcasting licence, but criticised former chairman James Murdoch, saying his actions “repeatedly fell short of the conduct to be expected of him”.

The clearance, while expected, is a relief for the broadcaster, which was threatened by the fallout from the phone-hacking scandal. Sky is 39 per cent owned by James Murdoch’s father Rupert’s News Corp and had been probed by Ofcom since last year.

“Ofcom considers that, on the evidence currently available and having taken into account all the relevant factors, Sky is fit and proper to hold its broadcast licences,” the regulator said in a statement yesterday.

Shares in BSkyB rose about one per cent on the news yesterday. Sky was the subject of a News Corp takeover bid before the scandal emerged.

James Murdoch resigned as BSkyB’s chairman in April and as executive chairman of News International in February. He remains on BSkyB’s board.Ofcom savaged Murdoch in its report yesterday, saying “it is clear” that he was aware of phone hacking taking place at News International.

“We consider that James Murdoch’s exercise of responsibility was less than we would expect to see exhibited by a competent chief executive,” Ofcom said. “We consider James Murdoch’s conduct, including his failure to initiate action on his own account on a number of occasions, to be both difficult to comprehend and ill-judged.”

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