Elisabeth Murdoch Won't Take A Seat on News Corp. Board

3:09 AM PST 08/08/2011 by Mimi Turner
Hussein Samira/SPA Press/Newscom

The appointment U-turn comes amid concerns over the Murdoch family's control of the company in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.

 

LONDON - Elisabeth Murdoch has told the News Corp. board that it would "inappropriate" for her to take a seat on the News Corp board, as had been her intention earlier this year.

The founder and chief executive of Masterchef and Spooks creator Shine Group - which was acquired by News Corp. for $680 million earlier this year - will now delay plans to take a board position in a move aimed at shoring up News Corp.'s credibility after the phone-hacking scandal.

In a statement, Viet Dinh, chairman of News Corp's corporate governance committee, said Elisabeth had "suggested to the independent directors some weeks ago that she felt it would be inappropriate" to include her nomination to the board of New Corp., a decision they have now accepted.

"Both Elisabeth and the Board hope this decision reaffirms that News Corp. aspires to the highest standards of corporate governance and will continue to act in the best interests of all stakeholders, be they shareholders, employees or the billions of consumers who News Corp.'s content informs, entertains and sometimes provokes every year," Dinh continued in a statement.

Elisabeth's decision not to take a board seat comes despite the fact she has had no connection with the phone-hacking scandal that continues to weaken News Corp. and forced it to abandon its cherished strategic goal of securing total control of British pay TV giant BSkyB.

News Corp.'s explicit adherence to corporate governance concerns throws into contrast the BSkyB board's decision to offer its unanimous support to James Murdoch, who remains the satcaster's chairman despite the fact he has admitted to authorizing payments to phone-hacking victims.

Last month, BSkyB CEO Jeremy Darroch defended the board's support for James Murdoch, saying that BSkyB customers were not affected by the phone-hacking scandal.

Darroch rejected suggestions that Murdoch was the wrong choice for chairman because he is now embroiled in a lengthy series of Parliamentary, judicial and criminal investigations that could take over a year to conclude, and said his position as chairman would not affect confidence in Sky, one of the most popular consumer brands in the U.K.

"Customers respond to what we offer them," he said last month, speaking on a conference call announcing the pay TV powerhouse's bumper annual results.

Darroch said he "refused to speculate on hypotheticals" about the possible range of outcomes for James Murdoch. "The job of a board is to keep a watching brief," he said.

Darroch admitted that some customers had cancelled their subscriptions because of revelations of phone-hacking at the News of The World - part of News International and News Corp. - but said it was only "a tiny handful."

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