Murdoch faces ire of News Corp investors

Rupert Murdoch is facing the wrath of News Corp shareholders today over his handling of the damaging phone-hacking scandal and his family's control of the board.

More than 200 protesters have gathered outside Fox Studios in Hollywood, a different meeting venue from previous years, while inside investors are discussing a motion that Murdoch be ousted as chairman of the company.

News Corp’s biggest investors, including major US, British and Australian pension funds, have voiced their disapproval of Murdoch’s handling of the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World, and his insistence on keeping family control over its operations.

The meeting is the first time Murdoch has faced investors since several of the company’s executives were arrested by UK police investigating illegal hacking of voicemails.

Tom Watson, the Labour MP that has led Parliament's select committee investigation into the scandal, has joined investors at the meeting, and earlier said he had fresh allegations of surveillance by News International to raise.

Investors such as the Californian public sector pension scheme Calpers, the Australian Shareholder Association and Christian Brothers Investment Services are among those set to vote against the re-election of the Murdochs.

Since Murdoch has 40 per cent control of News Corp's voting B shares and is supported by the next largest holder, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, it is unlikely that he, his sons James and Lachlan or any other long-time serving director could get voted off the board.

However, corporate governance watchers will focus on whether the board receives a much lower share of the vote than it would normally expect.

A significantly lower vote could force some sort of board shake-up in coming months. Details of the vote might not become clear until early next week.

Among the many concerns for Murdoch aides is the strong possibility of further reputation damage and embarrassment.

The protesters are believed to be from a group called Avaaz, which previously campaigned against News Corp's withdrawn bid to take full control of UK satellite operator BSkyB. There were early reports of increased police presence around the Fox lot.