James Murdoch may run Fox Networks Group in US
The Financial Times reports News Corp is preparing to expand Murdoch’s role to include running the Fox Networks Group — News Corp’s US television businesses — following the publication of Ofcom’s (the UK’s FCC) recent report, which said British Sky Broadcasting, where News Corp owns 39% stake, was “fit and proper” to hold a broadcasting license.
Fox Networks Group includes the Fox broadcast network, FX, National Geographic, Fox Kids, MyNetworkTV, Big Ten Network (51%, with the Big Ten Conference), Fox College Sports, Fox Sports Net (some affiliates owned by DirecTV Sports Networks), Fox Movie Channel, Fox Soccer, Fox Soccer Plus, Fuel TV, Nat Geo Mundo, Nat Geo Wild, SPEED, Fox on Demand, Fox Latin American Channels and Fox Reality Channel.
The Ofcom report criticized Murdoch, but ultimately cleared him: “evidence available to date does not provide a reasonable basis to conclude that James Murdoch deliberately engaged in any wrongdoing”.
The Financial times days the role being discussed between News Corp and James Murdoch, Peter Rice, head of News Corp’s Fox Networks Group, will report directly to James, currently the deputy COO at the company.
Murdoch had pressed for his expanded role to be announced in July, when Rice was promoted to run Fox Networks, according to The Financial Times story. But Rupert Murdoch – his father and News Corp’s chairman – and Chase Carey, the company’s COO, resisted.
News Corp is still awaiting the outcome of three separate police investigations into phone hacking, payments to public officials and alleged computer hacking. The probes have led to a series of arrests of current and former employees of News Corp’s UK newspaper arm. But the publication of the Ofcom report clears a significant hurdle for James Murdoch and is seen internally as a victory for the company.