By Kamal Ahmed – The Telegraph
April 3, 2012
James Murdoch is to resign as chairman of BSkyB with immediate effect.
He took the decision after speaking to close colleagues at BSkyB and News Corporation last week and over the weekend.
Mr Murdoch decided to quit now, ahead of what is likely to be a critical report by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee at the end of the month into allegations of phone hacking.
The media select committee report is likely to raise fresh questions about Mr Murdoch’s role as chief executive of News International during the phone hacking scandal.
He admitted he did not read an email from senior executives about the widespread nature of the allegations.
It is believed that Mr Murdoch thought it is better to go now than being seen to be “forced out” by a critical report.
He is also due to appear before the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics with his father, Rupert, at the end of the month.
Any criticism is likely to increase the scope of an inquiry by Ofcom into whether Mr Murdoch is a “fit and proper” person to hold a licence for a television company.
At this stage it looks likely that Mr Murdoch will attempt to stay on the board. Nick Ferguson, presently deputy chairman, will become chairman, a move that will probably be temporary.
His resignation comes after growing pressure from shareholders. They are concerned that the phone hacking allegations at News International, where Mr Murdoch was formerly chief executive, are having a contagion effect on BSkyB.
Mr Murdoch also faced conflict of interest issues after News Corporation, of which he is deputy chief operating officer, launched a bid to buy the proportion of BSkyB it does not already own.
Here is a quick timeline of the recent developments in James Murdoch’s role in the UK:
• Today: Revealed that Murdoch is to step down as chairman of BSkyB.
• 17 March: Murdoch resigns his directorship at auction house Sotheby’s.
• 14 March: Murdoch writes to MPs on Commons media select committee expressing “deep regret” over News of the World phone hacking.
• 29 February: Murdoch resigns as chairman of News International, publisher of the Sun and formerly News of the World.
• 27 January: Murdoch quits GlaxoSmithKline board.