Sky Italia boss replaces Rebekah Brooks

The boss of News Corp's Italian satellite broadcasting arm - known as the man who took on Silvio Berlusconi - today replaced Rebekah Brooks at News International.

Tom Mockridge, 55, left Sky Italia with immediate effect to take up the role following Ms Brooks' resignation as NI chief executive.

New Zealand-born Mr Mockridge, who was Sky Italia chief executive since its launch in 2003, started his career as a newspaper reporter in the late 70s and will now oversee the publication of some of the UK's biggest national newspapers including The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun.

James Murdoch, chief executive of News Corp International, said: "Tom is an outstanding executive with unrivalled experience across our journalism and television businesses."

He added: "I believe that Tom is the best person to move the company forward to a brighter future."

Mr Mockridge was chosen by News Corp chief executive Rupert Murdoch to lead the battle against the Italian media empire founded and part owned by the country's prime minister, Mr Berlusconi.

Sky Italia, which is 100% owned by News Corp and offers pay TV services, is in direct competition with Mediaset, the largest commercial broadcaster in Italy.

Sky Italia reported operating profits of more than £124 million and employs 4,500 people.

During his time with the company, Mr Mockridge was responsible for setting up award-winning rolling 24-hour news service TG24.

He was locked in a seemingly endless war of words with Mr Berlusconi during his time in Italy as legal battles were fought over football pricing, access to Italy's digital field, and TV taxes.

Mr Mockridge last year called for the removal of 2003 legislation in Italy preventing Sky Italia from entering the terrestrial television market.

The European Union ruled in Sky Italia's favour, a position upheld by Italy's top administrative court.

Mr Mockridge, who also sits on the board of BSkyB as a non-executive director, was previously responsible for overseeing News Corp's television operations in Europe, outside the UK.

Before joining Sky Italia, Mr Mockridge was chief executive of publicly-listed New Zealand company Independent Newspapers and chairman of Sky New Zealand.

He previously held various roles at media company Star Group Limited and spent three years as chief executive of Foxtel, News Corp's Australian pay TV joint venture.

Mr Mockridge joined News Corp in January 1991, working for Ken Cowley, chief executive of Australian newspaper company News Limited.

He was a member of Australian Finance Minister Paul Keating's staff between 1984 and 1991.

Mr Mockridge, who is married to an Italian citizen and has two children, started his career writing for Taranaki Daily News in New Zealand before moving to Australia where he was economics editor for the Sydney Morning Herald.

Laura Cioli, Sky Italia chief operating officer, and Domenico Labianca, chief finance officer, will assume Mr Mockridge's responsibilities on an interim basis, reporting to Mr Murdoch junior.