Murdochs: Exit James, enter Rupert

  • 29 February 2012
  • From the section Business
  • comments

"You don't need more than one Murdoch in charge".

That is what a senior News Corporation executive said to me in explanation for why James Murdoch has quit as chairman of News International, the UK operations of the Murdochs' News Corporation.

What he meant is that Rupert Murdoch, with the launch of The Sun on Sunday, is showing that he is back overseeing the group's British newspapers.

So James Murdoch can concentrate on what he is said to enjoy most, which is running News Corporation's television interests outside the US - though, oddly perhaps, he will be doing this from New York, as deputy chief operating officer of News Corporation, the holding company for News International, which is controlled by the Murdoch family.

In a way, this is a remarkable statement. Because it implies that 81 year old Rupert Murdoch isn't planning to retire or step aside in favour of his son any time soon.

News Corp says that in terms of cleaning up the UK newspaper operations, in the wake of the phone-hacking and official-bribing scandals that led to the closure of the News of the World and embarrassed The Sun, much of the work has been done.

There is a new system for vetting expenses payments and new compliance procedures.

So the first and important phase of James Murdoch's programme to rehabilitate the UK media group is over - or so News Corp says.

But perhaps what matters more to James Murdoch is that News Corp's international television businesses, in India, Italy and Germany, have been doing pretty well. And he would prefer to be identified with these than with the bruised Sun.

So if he can concentrate on running those TV interests alone, together with chairing British Sky Broadcasting, maybe his reputation - damaged by the phone-hacking scandal - can be rebuilt.