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James Murdoch steps down at News International, 'unit that has fallen into turmoil,' says WSJ

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By The Drum Team | Editorial

February 29, 2012 | 3 min read

James Murdoch has stepped down as the executive chairman of News International.

In a statement, parent company News Corporation said Murdoch had "relinquished his position" at News International, the UK publisher of The Sun and The Times.

He will continue as deputy chief operating officer of News Corporation in New York, where he is now based.

The move was widely reported in Britain and the US. The Wall Street Journal, Rupert Murdoch's flagship American paper, said the change "removes the 39-year-old Mr. Murdoch from oversight of a unit that has fallen into turmoil."

The WSJ said The U.K. unit, News International, was at the centre of three criminal investigations over illegal reporting tactics at its newspapers, including the now closed tabloid the News of the World and its sister paper, the Sun.

The Journal added, "A key issue in the public drama surrounding the scandal has been Mr. Murdoch's handling of the affair and when he learned about the extent of wrongdoing."

In London his father Rupert, the chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, said: "We are all grateful for James' leadership at News International and across Europe and Asia, where he has made lasting contributions to the group's strategy in paid digital content and its efforts to improve and enhance governance programs.

"He has demonstrated leadership and continues to create great value at Star TV, Sky Deutschland, Sky Italia, and BSkyB. Now that he has moved to New York, James will continue to assume a variety of essential corporate leadership mandates, with particular focus on important pay-TV businesses and broader international operations."

James Murdoch added: "I deeply appreciate the dedication of my many talented colleagues at News International who work tirelessly to inform the public and am confident about the tremendous momentum we have achieved under the leadership of my father and Tom Mockridge.

"With the successful launch of the Sun on Sunday and new business practices in place across all titles, News International is now in a strong position to build on its successes in the future. As deputy chief operating Officer, I look forward to expanding my commitment to News Corporation's international television businesses and other key initiatives across the company."

Tom Mockridge, chief executive officer of News International, will continue in his post and will report to News Corporation president and COO Chase Carey.

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