Murdoch splitting News Corp as he rejigs top jobs

 

Rupert Murdoch has split his publishing and TV businesses sooner than expected, making a string of sweeping changes across his media empire, including at his troubled London newspapers arm News International.

Mr Murdoch confirmed that the global newspapers business will retain the News Corporation name while the TV and film division will be known as Fox Group.

Robert Thomson, editor of the Wall Street Journal and former editor of The Times in London, will take over from Mr Murdoch as chief executive of News Corp.

The veteran media mogul remains as chairman but is taking a more hands-off role, fuelling speculation that he could sell some of the publishing assets in future.

In contrast, Mr Murdoch will remain in full, day-to-day control of Fox Group as he remains the chairman and chief executive.

News Corp said the publishing entity will keep its historic name because it was "in keeping with the company's 60-year heritage of bringing news to the world".

Mr Thomson's elevation to run News Corp was expected, but it is still a big promotion because the Australian financial journalist will now be chief executive of a listed company.

He will oversee an empire that includes The Times, The Sun, the New York Post and book publishers HarperCollins.

Gerard Baker, a Briton and another former executive at The Times, takes over as editor of the Wall Street Journal, which News Corp bought in 2007.

Tom Mockridge, the chief executive of News International in London, has quit after missing out on the job that went to Mr Thomson.

Mr Mockridge said: "The reason I am leaving is that the new structure does not offer me a role I am comfortable with."

In a surprise move, Mr Murdoch has raided pay-TV giant BSkyB to recruit its chief operating officer, Mike Darcey, as Mr Mockridge's replacement.

Mr Darcey has a reputation as a tough operator who cracked down on costs at Sky, which has continued to eke out record profits despite a price freeze last year.

Mr Mockridge's departure after 22 years will be a blow to the Murdoch empire as the New Zealand-born former journalist was highly experienced, especially in pay-TV.

He was chief executive of Sky Italia until July 2011 when he was brought in to replace Rebekah Brooks at News International, and he became deputy chairman of BSkyB, in which News Corp has a 39 per cent stake, in April.

Mr Mockridge is likely to receive a large pay-off. Ms Brooks reportedly received £7m when she left last year. Tony Ball, a former boss of Sky, also received a golden goodbye worth around £10m in 2003.

Mr Murdoch revealed separately that he was shutting The Daily, a special iPad-only newspaper that he launched in New York less than two years ago.

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