James Murdoch: Is the succession slipping away

 

Once the undisputed heir-apparent to his father's media empire, James Murdoch's future seemed less certain as he took a step back from the family's media empire today.

The 39-year-old News Corp deputy chief operating officer initially appeared to be more than capable of surviving the unfolding crisis engulfing News International - initially impressing some with his steely response, including the dramatic closure of the News of the World.

But claims that he knew about the now-notorious "For Neville" email, despite repeatedly insisting he was not aware of it, have dogged him.

And his defiant performance at his father Rupert Murdoch's side when he faced the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee last July came, reports suggested, amid efforts within the family to oust him.

Those were resisted but he then had to rely mostly on the large family stake in News Corp to remain on its board at all.

In November Mr Murdoch Jr survived as a director of BSkyB despite nearly 45% of non-News Corporation shareholders failing to back him at the company's annual general meeting.

BSkyB said that excluding votes cast by News Corporation, Mr Murdoch received the support of 55.7% of independent shareholders, with 31.4% opposed and 12.9% withheld.

There had been calls for him to resign his role as chairman amid fears that his links to the inquiry into phone hacking at News Corporation would damage BSkyB's reputation.

Born in London in 1972 as one of three children from Rupert's second marriage to Anna, James had an unusual start to his career.

At Harvard University he drew cartoons for the satirical magazine Lampoon and also set up a hip-hop record label, Rawkus, in the mid-1990s.

The company was making a small profit when it was bought by News Corporation and James returned to the family business as head of the firm's music division.

He ventured into the burgeoning dotcom market, investing in a series of internet ventures, and is credited by some for piquing Murdoch senior's interest in cyberspace.

But like many other dotcom investors, James met with indifferent results and News Corporation's foray into the market was short-lived.

James's mixed early performance did not dent his father's confidence in his abilities and in 2000 he was appointed chairman and chief executive officer of News Corporation subsidiary Star TV.

He proved himself in the tough Asian pay TV market by rapidly improving the Hong Kong-based company's fortunes. Star moved into profit after building a strong presence in India and won "landing rights" in mainland China.

Cries of nepotism greeted his appointment in November 2003 as chief executive of BSkyB - the youngest head of a FTSE 100 company.

In December 2007 he was handed the task of leading his father's media empire in Europe and Asia with direct responsibility for the strategic and operational development of News Corporation's television, newspaper and related digital assets there and in the Middle East.

Four years later he took on the newly-created post of deputy chief operating officer of News Corporation - the third most senior figure in the organisation.

But as the spotlight remains on the Murdoch Empire, today's news of James Murdoch standing down as executive chairman of News International is likely to cast doubts on the future of his once-glittering career.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum