Saturday, 17 September 2011


for those interested in such things, it will take place on 29th November, and the whole board is expected to be up for election, meaning that investors get to vote on James Murdoch as chair.

From what I've read recently it appears that Murdoch will be back in front of the DCMS committee before the AGM. Presumably the company will expect him to do a good job, but that meeting with Crone and Myler will be a key issue. I think opinions on this one have probably hardened, you either believe Murdoch's version or you don't. I don't, and I think Crone and Myler were pretty clear that Murdoch did indeed know. I would also urge people to consider News International's 'truthiness' track record on hacking when making up their mind.

I can't think of another example of a FTSE100 chair accused of this kind of thing and being called back in front of a Parliamentary committee because former colleagues have disputed their testimony. This is pretty serious stuff, so investors need to wake up.

Specifically BSkyB shareholders should consider a couple of further points. First, is Murdoch is fulfilling his role in contributing to the company's standing and image (read Sky's Corp gov memorandum on this)? Second, bear in mind that the company has already undertaken an internal review because of the hacking scandal, see bit below from FT last month. This is a clear link between what happened at News Intl under Murdoch's watch and reputational risk at the company of which he is chair. In what other FTSE100 company do they have to do an internal review because of what their chair has been up to at another company?

'No suggestion of impropriety’ at Sky News
By Salamander Davoudi

The board of British Sky Broadcasting ordered a review into editorial practices at its subsidiary Sky News last month following the phone-hacking scandal that is tearing through Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, the broadcaster’s largest shareholder.
The three-week probe was carried out by BSkyB’s internal audit and risk management team and looked specifically at the news organisation’s financial records and how editorial money had been spent.
“There has been no suggestion of any impropriety at Sky News and we remain committed to the highest standards,” a spokesman for the company said.
News Corp owns 39.1 per cent of BSkyB as well as a stable of newspapers in its UK subsidiary News International, including the Sun and the Times. NI’s titles represent more than 40 per cent of the national market.
“One of the reasons this review at Sky News was seen to be absolutely necessary was because of the connection with James Murdoch,” said one media observer. “As current chairman of BSkyB and executive chairman of News International, if something horrid cropped up at Sky there would simply be no happy outcome.”
The report, which was delivered to the audit committee of the main BSkyB board, was understood to have found no cause for concern.
The fallout from the phone-hacking scandal has reverberated across News Corp and hobbled Mr Murdoch’s UK operations. The media group withdrew its proposed £8.3bn ($13.5bn) bid to take full control of BSkyB and closed its tabloid paper the News of the World.
James Murdoch has won unanimous support from the BSkyB board to remain as chairman but his continued presence, as he tries to control the damage to News Corp’s reputation from the scandal, has split shareholders. Last month one influential investor described his decision to remain as “extraordinary”.

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