James Murdoch Steps Down as Chair of BSkyB

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In Murdoch’s Scandal, FRONTLINE goes inside the phone-hacking scandal that rocked a government and shook a media giant. Watch the full film here.

In the week since FRONTLINE aired Murdoch’s Scandal, there have been quite a few shakeups in the circle of News Corp. companies — not the least of which is today’s announcement by British Sky Broadcasting, or BSkyB, that James Murdoch is stepping down as chairman.

While he’ll continue to serve on the satellite television company’s board, the move is the latest blow to both James Murdoch — last month, he stepped down as chair of News International — and to News Corp., whose bid to take control of BSkyB was derailed last summer by the widening phone-hacking scandal.

In Murdoch’s Scandal, former Deputy Prime Minister Lord John Prescott explained the significance of BSkyB to the Murdoch empire:

If you look about the money the Murdochs get from BSkyB, it’s money, money, money. And the money then keeps on keeping funding papers that don’t make money. But papers bring him influence more than television does. Ask yourself, does that sound to be a good business model? Whether it’s good or not, it’s certainly a business model.

Check out this graphic for more on which divisions of News Corp. bring in the most money — and how that’s changed over the past 10 years.

There’s also an unfolding story out of Australia to keep an eye on: allegations that a News Corp. software subsidiary hacked into a competing satellite television’s encrypted pay-TV cards. Rupert Murdoch responded to those allegations last week, in a tweet:

 

Update [April 4, 2012]: An article in today’s Bloomberg Businessweek poses an intriguing question: Did James Murdoch step down as chair of BSkyB to strengthen News Corp.’s chances of buying a majority stake of the company in the future?

Photo: James Murdoch is driven away from the QE2 Conference center in London following the BskyB annual general meeting Tuesday Nov. 29, 2011. James Murdoch was re-elected as the chairman of broadcaster BSkyB on Tuesday despite calls for his resignation over the phone hacking scandal that has rocked Britain. (AP Photo/Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)
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