James Murdoch to face BSkyB board

28th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

The board of British satellite broadcaster BSkyB meets Thursday with the status of chairman James Murdoch on the agenda amid questions over his role in the phone-hacking scandal at his father's empire.

The 38-year-old son and heir apparent of News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch has faced calls from some shareholders to resign, but reports said the pay TV giant's board was likely to give him its backing, at least for now.

The scandal has shut down News Corp.'s News of the World newspaper, forced News Corp. to ditch a bid for full control of BSkyB and compelled James and Rupert Murdoch to face questions in parliament.

James Murdoch came under further pressure last week when when two former News of the World executives challenged his testimony about what he knew of the extent of phone-hacking.

A lawmaker then referred Murdoch's testimony to the police.

The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by News Corp., said on Thursday the board would discuss its earnings report due out Friday, shareholder payments and the status of the younger Murdoch.

It quoted people familiar with the matter as saying that his status on the board "appears to be secure at least for now" and that fellow directors were unlikely to push for him to go, though cautioning that nothing was certain.

The BBC also reported that he was set to keep his position.

James holds the position at BSkyB in addition to his activities as head of News Corp.'s European and Asian activities or number three at the US-based group, where he is also chairman of its British newspaper arm News International.

BSkyB is set to announce an annual operating profit of £1.0 billion (1.13 billion euros, $1.63 billion) for the 12 months to the end of June, according to analysts' consensus forecast.

Last year News Corp. announced plans to add to the 39 percent of shares it owns in BSkyB, purchasing the remaining stock for £7.8 billion, despite opposition from media rivals on competition grounds.

But they dropped the offer on July 14 as lawmakers were about to pass a rare cross-party motion calling on Rupert Murdoch to do so amid the hacking scandal.

© 2011 AFP

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