Why is John Hartigan out as chairman and CEO of News Corp.'s Australian division, News Limited? That was the big question after 63-year-old Hartigan resigned this week.
Rupert Murdoch, 80, will take over as News Limited chairman. The new CEO will be Kim Williams, who runs Foxtel, the pay-TV company partly owned by News Corp.
News Limited staff in Australia are said to be in “total shock” at Hartigan’s unexpected departure, according to the Australian news website Crikey.
In a statement, Murdoch said, “John’s decision will end a distinguished 41-year career with News Corp. in which he has given us exemplary service and incredible leadership.”
The official statement implies that Hartigan resigned of his own accord, but some members of the Australian media think he was pushed out, according to Crikey which has published a spoof resignation letter:
Hartigan, known as Big Harto, joined News Corp. in Sydney 41 years ago as a reporter for the Daily Mirror. He eventually rose to top editorial positions and became the company’s chairman in 2005.
He has repeatedly denied any connection between the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World and the Australian branch of the company.
In The Guardian, Roy Greenslade said Hartigan was “a very fit 63” and “can hardly be said to be too old for the job. Therefore, there is bound to be speculation that he has been prevailed upon by Murdoch to step aside. If so, the reason is unclear.”