Ian Burrell: This is like removing a hostage from a danger zone

Share
Related Topics

Less than a month after his father Rupert's 80th birthday, James Murdoch is returning to New York in a newly created, powerful role. The appointment appears to confirm that the fourth of the media mogul's six children is the chosen successor as head of the News Corporation empire.

At the age of 38, James has been given the title of deputy chief executive officer, chairman and CEO, International, of News Corp, which effectively means that he will be the third most important figure in the organisation.

James's promotion reflects Murdoch Snr's desire that News Corp remain a family operation.

As one source said last night: "Rupert can do what he likes."

Yesterday News Corp sources in London were anxious to give the impression that little had changed, with James retaining control of News Corp in Europe and Asia, meaning that he is still in charge of News International, publisher of the company's British newspapers.

He will also retain his position as non-executive chairman of the satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

But all this means that James Murdoch will be relocating to America at a time when News International is beset by problems concerning the ongoing scandal of phone-hacking by journalists at its Sunday tabloid, the News of the World.

News Corp's purchase of BSkyB is also at a critical juncture, with the board on the verge of deciding what price to pay for the 61 per cent of shares which News Corp does not already own.

Some observers have not been impressed with James's handling of the British newspaper business, which he took over in 2007.

On Tuesday, on the eve of the announcement of the new role, News International released new figures which it claimed showed that the company's introduction of a paywall for the websites of The Times and The Sunday Times had been successful in increasing digital revenues. But print sales of The Times have suffered a steady decline.

Rumours have been circulating for some time that James, who went to school in New York and is married to a New Yorker, wished to return to America.

The move will take him out of the line of fire as MPs continue to demand answers on the extent of the phone-hacking activities at News International.

One source last night compared James's relocation to "an SAS operation to remove a hostage from a vulnerable situation".

Some believe that Rebekah Brooks, who is now the most senior News Corp figure based in London and admired greatly by Rupert Murdoch, may also be considered for an American-based role, though that would compound a power vacuum that may already emerge at Wapping with James's frequent absence.

Loyal News Corp figures say the new job is simply an extension of James's role and that over the past 18 months he has spent much time away from London visiting News Corp operations across Europe and Asia.

"You shouldn't think of this as him fleeing London, never to be seen again," one insisted.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Separate lives: Boston’s streets illustrate the divide between the town’s communities  

Migrants have far more to offer than hard work and wealth creation, yet too many exist in isolation from the rest of society

Emily Dugan
Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird has sold 40 million copies  

Go Set a Watchman: Harper Lee’s new novel is more than just a literary event

Joseph Charlton
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'