JAMES Murdoch is to step down as executive chairman of News International, it was announced today.
Parent company News Corporation said in a statement the move would allow him to focus on expanding the company’s international TV businesses.
Mr Murdoch has faced intense scrutiny in the wake of the News of the World phone hacking scandal.
The company said Mr Murdoch, who is its deputy chief operating officer, was stepping down from the role in NI, which is its UK publishing unit, following his relocation to the company’s headquarters in New York.
His father Rupert Murdoch, who is News Corporation’s chairman and chief executive officer, said: “We are all grateful for James’ leadership at News International and across Europe and Asia, where he has made lasting contributions to the group’s strategy in paid digital content and its efforts to improve and enhance governance programmes.
“He has demonstrated leadership and continues to create great value at Star TV, Sky Deutschland, Sky Italia, and BSkyB.
“Now that he has moved to New York, James will continue to assume a variety of essential corporate leadership mandates, with particular focus on important pay-TV businesses and broader international operations.”
Mr Murdoch junior said: “I deeply appreciate the dedication of my many talented colleagues at News International who work tirelessly to inform the public and am confident about the tremendous momentum we have achieved under the leadership of my father and Tom Mockridge.
“With the successful launch of The Sun on Sunday and new business practices in place across all titles, News International is now in a strong position to build on its successes in the future.
“As Deputy Chief Operating Officer, I look forward to expanding my commitment to News Corporation’s international television businesses and other key initiatives across the Company.”
Mr Mockridge was appointed chief executive officer of News International last summer after former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks was forced to resign in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.
Mr Murdoch found himself at the centre of the hacking scandal after it was claimed he had been told that phone-hacking was more widespread at the News of the World than was originally admitted.
He had previously told the Commons Culture Committee he was not aware of the notorious “For Neville” document, which blew apart the company’s stance that hacking was the fault of a single rogue reporter - former royal correspondent Clive Goodman, who was paying private investigator Glenn Mulcaire to carry it out.
But Tom Crone, former legal chief of NoW publisher News Group Newspapers told MPs he was “certain” he told Mr Murdoch Jr about the now-notorious email.