Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Breaking News: James Murdoch Steps Down

by Nomad
According to the BBC, James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch, has decided to step down from his position as executive chairman at News International the United Kingdom newspaper publishing division of News Corporation
News International publishes The Times, The Sun and The Sunday Times. News International has been the center of an ongoing scandal involving illegal phone-hacking and as a result, several top editors were arrested. Additionally the News of the World, once considered Murdoch's flagship, abruptly closed last year. 
James Murdoch, the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, will now be taking on a new role. Rupert Murdoch issued this statement:

"We are all grateful for James' leadership at News International and across Europe and Asia, where he has made lasting contributions to the group's strategy in paid digital content and its efforts to improve and enhance governance programs. He has demonstrated leadership and continues to create great value at Star TV, Sky Deutschland, Sky Italia, and BSkyB.

Now that he has moved to New York, James will continue to assume a variety of essential corporate leadership mandates, with particular focus on important pay-TV businesses and broader international operations," 
 (That's a relief, I was worried he would be unemployed.) For his part, James Murdoch has said:
With the successful launch of The Sun on Sunday and new business practices in place across all titles, News International is now in a strong position to build on its successes in the future. As Deputy Chief Operating Officer, I look forward to expanding my commitment to News Corporation’s international television businesses and other key initiatives across the Company.
Chris Bryant, British Labour MP, stated this week that the conspiracy to cover up the hacking of phones at News International went all the way up to the top management, including its chief executive, James Murdoch. He claimed that it would be the single largest corporation corruption case for 250 years. According to one source:
In a scathing attack, he said: "There was a major cover-up at News International which stretched right up to the very highest levels of the company, as we know, even up to James Murdoch. And that, in the end, I suspect, will prove to have been the biggest crime."
And that's only half of the story. Until now, News Corp has been successful in keeping any investigation by the Department of Justice about phone hacking conducted in the USA. However, the DOJ has reportedly opened an inquiry about possible violations of the The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 in July 2011. 

The law, which specifically targets bribery, has in the past been used against corporations such as BAE Systems, Baker Hughes, Daimler AG, Halliburton, KBR, Lucent Technologies, Monsanto, Siemens, Titan Corporation, Triton Energy Limited, Avon Products, and Invision Technologies. So far, very little has apparently come of the investigation.
Here are some related stories about repercussions of the scandal:

From the Guardian:

News Corp: threat of US legal action raised in light of 'illegal payment' claim
Fresh allegations increase likelihood of News Corp being prosecuted under Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, experts say
From the New York Times:

A Fresh Blot on Murdoch’s Sun
LONDON — A day after presiding over the publication of his new, damn-the-critics Sun on Sunday tabloid, Rupert Murdoch was confronted with fresh allegations from a top police investigator that the daily Sun had systematically paid large sums of money to “a network of corrupted officials” in the British police, military and government....

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