James Murdoch is no longer the director of British newspapers The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times, the UK press reported today.
The move is seen as a method of distancing himself from the ongoing investigation of the now-defunct tabloid News of the World. The younger Murdoch has denied that he knew anything about the phone hacking of thousands before it was splashed across headlines in July, leading to the demise of the 168-year-old tabloid.
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Companies House documents say Murdoch officially stepped down as director of News Group Newspapers Limited, publisher of The Sun tabloid – the biggest in Britain – and Times Newspapers Limited, in mid-September.
He will remain executive chairman of News International and continue as deputy chief operating officer of US media conglomerate News Corporation, but his future as executive chairman of the satellite broadcaster BSkyB is up in the air until next week’s annual meeting of shareholders. According to the UK’s Guardian, Labour MP Chris Bryant is urging them to vote against Murdoch’s re-election, citing concern that allowing him to remain would “do serious damage to BSkyB and to the overall reputation of the UK's standards of corporate governance.”
Murdoch is still expected to attend court appearances as the investigation of News of the World continues, and analysts are weighing in on whether this step down signifies Murdoch’s eventual exit from his father’s newspapering empire.