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  1. ITV Report

James Murdoch resigns as chairman of BSkyB

James Murdoch Photo: REUTERS/David Moir/Files

James Murdoch announced today that he would resign as chairman of BSkyB, a position he had held since 2007.

In a letter to the BSkyB board he said he was concerned that his presence could become a "lightning rod" for the company and could lead to it being associated with News International, the company at the centre of several investigations into phone hacking.

As attention continues to be paid to past events at News International, I am determined that the interests of BSkyB should not be undermined by matters outside the scope of this company. I am aware that my role as chairman could become a lightning rod for BSkyB and I believe that my resignation will help to ensure that there is no false conflation with events at a separate organisation.

– James Murdoch

Mr Murdoch resigned as chairman of News International in February and announced that he was relocating to New York. At that time many expected him to stand down from BSkyB as well.

BSkyB has stood by Mr Murdoch through the phone-hacking controversy and credited him with a 20 percent rise in the value of company's shares during the five years he has held office.

At the company's annual meeting in November, 75 percent of shareholders were in favour of his continuing role as chairman.

ITV News Political Correspondent Lucy Manning reports on the day's events:

He will be succeeded by Nicholas Ferguson, who was previously deputy chairman. Mr Ferguson praised his predecessor's "vision, drive and strategic insight". Mr Murdoch will remain on the board as a non-executive member.

News Corporation, which is the biggest shareholder in BSkyB, also issued a joint statement from James' father Rupert Murdoch and Chase Carey, the chief operating officer.

We are grateful for James Murdoch's successful leadership of BSkyB. He has played a major role in propelling the company into the market-leading position it enjoys today – and in the process has been instrumental in creating substantial value for News Corporation shareholders.

– News cORPORATION

ITV News UK Editor Keir Simmons considers the impact of today's news on the Murdoch family business:

The new chairman of BSkyB Nicholas Ferguson Credit: BSkyB

An investigation by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee into phone hacking is expected to produce its final report in the coming weeks.

It will rule on whether Mr Murdoch misled the committee after his evidence appeared to be contradicted by two other witnesses - former News of the World Editor Colin Myler and legal manager Tom Crone.

ITV News understands that the report is likely to accuse several witnesses of misleading Parliament, although it is not clear whether James Murdoch will be one of them.

The head of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee John Whittingdale told ITV News that the committee has not yet reached a conclusion, but said that he expects the report to be published before the end of April.

Also pending is a decision by Ofcom into whether BSkyB is "fit and proper" to hold a licence in light of the evidence that has emerged from the Leveson Inquiry and MPs' report on phone hacking.

Today, the regulator released this statement which confirms that James Murdoch is still within the sight lines of its review:

We continue to gather evidence which may assist us in assessing whether BSkyB is and remains fit and proper to continue to hold its broadcast licences. As we have previously explained, the licensee, as a corporate body, will include controlling directors and shareholders.

– ofcom

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