James Murdoch resigns as BSkyB chairman

James Murdoch resigns as BSkyB chairman

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    James Murdoch resigns as BSkyB chairman

James Murdoch resigns as BSkyB chairman 03:43

Story highlights

  • James Murdoch says he is quitting to shield BSkyB from a newspaper scandal
  • News Corp. and BSkyB shares both fall on the news
  • Murdoch has been hammered by scandal at the now-shuttered News of the World
  • Police, lawmakers and an independent inquiry are all investigating the scandal

James Murdoch, the son of media magnate Rupert Murdoch, stepped down as the chairman of BSkyB on Tuesday, the British satellite broadcaster announced.

He has been hammered by accusations that News Corp.'s British Sunday tabloid the News of the World systematically eavesdropped illegally on crime victims, politicians, celebrities and veterans in search of stories.

Murdoch, 39, has consistently denied knowing about the scale of phone hacking at the paper, which he ordered shut down last summer in the face of the scandal.

He referred to it in his resignation, saying: "I am determined that the interests of BSkyB should not be undermined by matters outside the scope of this company."

He made clear he was trying to shield the satellite broadcaster from fallout from the newspaper scandal, saying: "I believe that my resignation will help to ensure that there is no false conflation with events at a separate organization."

Murdoch will stay on as a non-executive director of BSkyB.

Murdoch to resign as BSkyB chairman

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BSkyB shares in London fell about half a percentage point on the news of his resignation, and the Murdoch family's News Corp. fell about the same at the open in New York.

The resignation comes on the heels of his stepping down from News Corp.'s British newspaper publishing companies in the wake of scandals over the past year.

When he quit as chairman of News International in February, the company said it was to focus on News Corp.'s pay television services.

London's Metropolitan Police are conducting three separate investigations into the scandal, which also includes allegations of e-mail hacking and police bribery. Dozens of people have been arrested but no one has been charged.

Two parliamentary committees and an independent inquiry led by a judge are also probing the scandal.

The scandal broke as News Corp. moved to expand its ownership of BSkyB last summer -- a plan it shelved as politicians and the public expressed outrage about the hacking of the voice mail of a missing teenage girl who later turned out to have been murdered.

James Murdoch has been seen as a potential heir to his father's media empire.

He has twice been called to testify before lawmakers in London about what he knew of misconduct by staff at News International.

In a letter to parliament's Culture, Media and Sport committee last month, James Murdoch said he could have asked more questions of senior officers at the firm, but rejected the suggestion that his resignation as chief executive reflected unrevealed knowledge relating to the scandal.

"I take my share of responsibility for not uncovering wrongdoing earlier," he wrote in the letter, dated March 12 and published by lawmakers.

A News Corp. board meeting is scheduled for later Tuesday.

      The hacking scandal

    • Former News of the World editor and Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulson arrives at the phone-hacking trial at the Old Bailey court in London on January 27, 2014.

      Britain's phone-hacking scandal has seen former tabloid editor Andy Coulson move from the newsroom into the full glare of its spotlight.
    • How did phone hacking grow into a scandal that threatened Rupert Murdoch's hold on his global media business? Track all the major events.
    • Caption:LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend a reception during a visit to Centrepoint's Camberwell Foyer on December 21, 2011 in London, England. The national charity, Centrepoint, provides housing and support to improve the lives of homeless young people aged 16-25. (Photo by Ben Stansall-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

      The phone hacking trial revealed much about the inner workings of Rupert Murdoch's sex-and-scandal tabloids.
    • Rupert Murdoch (R) his wife Wendi Deng (C) and son Lachlan (L) leave their London home on April 26.

      Media expert Brian Cathcart says Fleet St. has grabbed its megaphone and started bellowing out its usual message: leave us alone.
    • Could the phone-hacking scandal prove to be a blessing in disguise for Murdoch? He claimed to have been "humbled" by the scandal.
    • The Leveson inquiry is a British government-backed inquiry into illegal eavesdropping and bribery by journalists. Read the final report by Lord Leveson.