While some media outlets tried to pretend there was drama in the vote, it was guaranteed long before Friday’s (10/21) vote that everyone on the management slate would be elected to the News Corporation board of directors, including Rupert, Lachlan and James Murdoch. That outcome has been confirmed, but, more importantly, shareholders rejected a proposal that the Chairman and CEO posts now held by Rupert Murdoch be separated.
The vote totals were still being tallied, the company said, but it announced that a majority had voted against the proposal by Christian Brothers Investment Services to have an independent Chairman of the Board. The vote was simply advisory and the board would not have been required to separate the CEO and Chairman posts even if it had passed. And that would have been remarkable, given that Murdoch personally controls 40% of the company’s votes.
The annual shareholders meeting did have drama, with several shareholders criticizing News Corporation management for the hacking scandal and its business performance. As for the latter, Murdoch insisted that the hacking scandal had not hurt the company’s stock price performance, showing a slide which demonstrated that in the past six months News Corp. had outperformed all of its peers, with the sole exception of CBS Corporation.
As for criticism of ethics at News Corporation media outlets, Murdoch insisted that the hacking scandal in the UK was being thoroughly dealt with and that the company would not compromise in the area of ethics. “We cannot just be a profitable company. We must be a principled company,” he said.