Why James Murdoch’s Job at BSkyB is Crucial for News Corp
2:27 pm, July 27th | by Amy Tennery
It’s true that the wolves have descended on James Murdoch, as far as his involvement with the News Corp hacking scandal is concerned. He’s faced criticism from the media — and he’s faced accusations that he may have lied in his testimony to Parliament. And all this before people have ever totally figured out (concretely) what was going on among the News Corp leadership as the hacking scandal unfolded. Let’s just say it’s not a good time for Rupert Murdoch’s one-time heir apparent.
But News Corp is only one part of James’ resume. The other crucial job? Chairman at BSkyB. And the board there is meeting tomorrow to discuss whether he should keep that role. So what’s going to happen? Well, the experts are divided.
As the Atlantic Wire pointed out, the Guardian and the New York Times ran nearly opposing pieces on the issue this morning. The former argued that Murdoch is “likely to remain chairman” after an alleged secret meeting with Nicholas Ferguson (the depute chairman at BSkyB), who purportedly gave James his (private) blessing. The Times, meanwhile, noted that British broadcasting regulator Ofcom has begun “inquiries into whether BSkyB remains ‘fit and proper’ to hold a broadcasting license because of the scandal unfolding at the News Corporation.” And while the Times wasn’t openly pessimistic about James’ odds of staying on, it certainly painted a grimmer picture.
So, who’s right? That’s anyone’s guess. Whether or not Murdoch deserves to stay on as chairman appears to be a matter of opinion, also. And this is where things get a little tricky.
Paul Myners, a former minister for financial services in the U.K., told the Times that BSkyB “falls short” in terms of its corporate governance. With that in mind, wouldn’t it be the ultimate stamp of disapproval if Murdoch were sent packing from his chairman role? If Murdoch’s handling of the hacking scandal labels BSkyB as neither “fit” nor “proper,” then what would it say of News Corp? If the clouds are closing in on Murdoch at BSkyB, would it not be a freaking tornado for him over at News Corp?
Of course, James Murdoch’s stability at BSkyB remains up in the air. But we’d imagine we won’t be the only ones watching to see what happens tomorrow.