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Rupert Murdoch resigns from newspaper boards

LONDON: News Corp chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch, preparing to split his media empire into entertainment and publishing businesses, resigned from three of the company's boards, including the News International newspaper division in the UK. Murdoch, 81, alsosteppeddown as a director of Newscorp Investments and Times Newspapers Holdings, according to UK regulatory filings. News International publishes The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun newspapers in the UK. The resignations were presaged by his son JamesMurdoch ,wholefttheboardsof News Corp's newspaper companies earlier this year.

The Murdochs' retreat follows a costly year-long scandal at the UK newspaper operations , which is seen as a drag on the rest of the business . "It's all part of a withdrawal from the UK," said Claire Enders , a media analyst at Enders Analysis ."It's a continued disassociation with the Murdochs as a family because , after all , James and Rupert Murdoch are not all that different in the playout of the scandal . They've both been heavily implicated in different ways .

So , this is a response ." The two men have been compelled to appear before the British Parliament and explain how reporters and editors were able to get away with illegally hacking into mobile phones and paying public officials for stories without executives' notice .

Breakup plan
News Corp , under pressure from shareholders , announced plans last month to split into two publicly traded entities . The publishing business will consist of newspapers in the US , UK and Australia , as well as book, education and marketing assets .The media-and-entertainment company will have film and TV assets . Murdoch is slated to be chairman of both entities and CEO of entertainment when the deal closes in about a year . "Last week, Murdoch stepped down from a number of boards , many of them small subsidiary boards , both in the UK and US ," New York-based News Corp said in an emailed statement .

"This is nothing more than a corporate housecleaning exercise prior to the company split ." The Guardian newspaper reported on July 4 of last year that journalists at the now-closed News of the World tabloid hacked into the voice-mail account of a murdered schoolgirl. The revelation disrupted News Corp's plans to take to take full control of British Sky Broadcasting Group , Britain's biggest pay-TV operator of which it owns 39 %.

Ofcom probe
Now, media regulator Ofcom is examining whether the Murdochs are 'fit and proper' holders of a broadcast licence . James Murdoch , who is currently serving asdeputy operating chief of NewsCorpin New York , stepped down as chairman of BS ky B in April after his involvement in News International attracted unwanted attention to the stake .The regulator has the authority to revoke a broadcaster's licence , threatening part of News Corp's most profitable business . Operating income at News Corp's publishing unit, which includes the Wall Street Journal, New York Post and Times of London, dropped 32 % from fiscal 2008 to 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg .

'From the top '
Separately , a UK committee , after probing whether News Corp misled Parliament in the phone-hacking scandal , concluded in May that Murdoch is "not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company ." Murdoch "exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications ," the House of Commons Culture Committee said in a report .


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