Acting Editors of Rupert Murdoch's London Times and Sunday Times Given Go-Ahead to Take Jobs
LONDON – Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has been given the greenlight to appoint editors of its London Times and Sunday Times newspapers, both now part of its News U.K. division.
The conglomerate's News International U.K. newspaper unit has named John Witherow, editor of the Sunday Times, as editor of the daily Times, effective immediately.
His deputy, Martin Ivens, has been named acting editor of the Sunday Times.
Both had been appointed acting editors in January.
The independent directors, charged with keeping the two titles separate and independent from interference since Murdoch bought them in 1981, gave the pair's appointments the go-ahead after seeking assurances from News U.K. that the two titles would remain independent of each other going forward.
The approval of the appointments is the first major move for News U.K. since it was created, after News Corp. split its entertainment conglomerate into two companies -- one includes its newspapers and the other the empire's film and TV businesses.
In a statement, the Independent National Directors said they "have had extended discussions with the management of News U.K. about the financial prospects of The Times and The Sunday Times and the company’s plans for their future."
The management body said they have received "new written assurances that satisfy them that the company remains fully committed to maintaining the titles as separate newspapers" as required by the undertakings given to the secretary of state for trade by Murdoch in 1981 when he bought the titles.
"The Independent National Directors will continue to keep the titles and the undertakings under review. As and when necessary, they will commission independent audits of any plan that might affect the separate and distinctive characters of the two titles, and through the News U.K. whistle-blowing facility, staff will be able to raise any concerns about the undertakings with the Independent National Directors," the statement said.
News U.K. CEO Mike Darcey said his division "remains fully committed" to complying with the undertakings Murdoch made in 1981, "and I would like to thank the Independent National Directors for their dedication to discharging their responsibilities under the Undertakings and their ongoing commitment to the two titles."