James Murdoch, head of Rupert Murdoch’s British media group News International, was on Tuesday re-elected chairman of broadcaster BSkyB at its annual meeting in London despite a number of key shareholders voting against him because of his links with the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.
News Corporation, parent company of News International, owns 39 per cent of BSkyB and its multi-million pound bid to acquire the remaining 61 per cent earlier this year was derailed by the hacking controversy.
Rebels at the general body meeting wanted Mr.Murdoch, who is deputy chief operating officer of News Corporation, replaced by an independent chairman.
BBC quoted one of the shareholders who voted against Mr.Murdoch's re-election, Standard Life Investments, as saying: "We should like to see a new and independent chairman appointed. Our misgivings had been heightened by the revelations of stewardship short-comings at the News of the World, a title for which Mr.Murdoch bore a measure of responsibility."
However, BSkyB's deputy chairman, Nicholas Ferguson, insisted that Mr.Murdoch was doing a good job: "He runs an excellent board. Discussions are open and frank, his chairing is very good. He has put in place strong governance procedures. He has a strong strategic view."
Figures announced, immediately after the meeting, show that he got 81.24 per cent of the vote with 18.76 per cent voting against.
Mr. Murdoch’s position as his father’s heir apparent has become shaky after widespread criticism of his handling of the hacking affair. He has been summoned by MPs twice to explain how much he knew about the scale of use of illegal newsgathering tactics of his newspapers.
Recently, he quit as director of the companies that publish The Times, The Sunday Times, and the Sun amid speculation of a major shake-up at News International.