London Once his father’s heir apparent, James Murdoch stepped down Tuesday as chairman of British Sky Broadcasting, surrendering one of the biggest jobs in the Murdoch media empire in a bid to distance the broadcaster from a deepening phone hacking scandal.
James Murdoch’s credibility and competence have come under severe questioning because of the phone hacking crisis and alleged bribery by British newspapers while he was in charge, and he faces further questioning in the scandal.
“I am aware that my role as chairman could become a lightning rod for BSkyB, and I believe that my resignation will help to ensure that there is no false conflation with events at a separate organization,” the 39-year-old Murdoch said.
Tuesday’s announcement was just the latest in a string of setbacks for James Murdoch, who has been shedding titles since the scandal heated up.
At the end of February, he quit as chairman of News International, the company’s troubled British newspaper subsidiary, a move cast as allowing Rupert Murdoch’s younger son to focus on News Corp.’s extensive TV holdings. He has also stepped down from the boards of auctioneer Sotheby’s and the pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline PLC.
Nicholas Ferguson, formerly deputy chairman, moved up to replace the younger Murdoch as chairman at BSkyB. Tom Mockridge, who recently replaced James Murdoch at the helm of News International, gained a new title of deputy chairman of BSkyB.