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His departure, expected to be effective at year’s end, comes as the conglomerate seems ready to announce that Dow Jones editor in chief Robert Thomson would take over News Corp.’s publishing company when the media giant splits into two next year.
Mockridge, a longtime Murdoch lieutenant who was born in New Zealand, was seen as a favorite for the job, but the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that Thomson would be announced as CEO of the publishing firm as early as next week.
Mockridge ran the Sky Italia pay TV business before replacing Rebekah Brooks as head of News International.
It wasn’t immediately clear who would run News International, which Mockridge has worked to stabilize following the phone-hacking scandal that started engulfing it last summer.
“For nearly 22 years, it has been my pleasure to have Tom Mockridge as a colleague,” said Murdoch in a statement. “Whether it was his early days with our newspaper group in Australia, his incredible work building Sky Italia or his steadfast leadership of News International, Tom has always been a skilled executive and a trusted friend.”
Added Murdoch: “His decision to step down is absolutely and entirely his own. I am sorry to see him leave us, but I know he will be a great success wherever he goes.”
News Corp. is planning to separate the publishing company from its entertainment assets, including its film studio, the Fox broadcast network and its cable networks.
The company always has said that Murdoch would remain chairman and CEO of the entertainment company as well as chairman of the publishing group.
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