LONDON, United Kingdom – Rupert Murdoch has stepped down as director of a number of companies behind British newspapers The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times, a News International spokeswoman said on Saturday, July 21.
“Last week Mr Murdoch stepped down from a number of boards, many of them small subsidiary boards, both in the UK and US,” a spokeswoman for News Corp’s British publishing arm News International said.
The News Corp chief executive resigned from the boards of News Corp Investments, News International Group Limited and Times Newspaper Holdings in the last week.
He has also stepped down from boards in the US, Australia and India.
The spokeswoman said the move was “nothing more than a corporate house-cleaning exercise prior to the company split”.
The move comes after Murdoch announced last month that News Corp will press ahead with a split of the entertainment division from its struggling publishing business, saying he is committed to both units.
He said he would be chairman of both companies, including an entertainment unit led by Fox studios and television assets, and a publishing unit that includes The Wall Street Journal and Times of London.
Murdoch has been under increasing pressure from British shareholders and politicians over claims of phone hacking and corruption at some of his British newspapers.
The board resignations come a year after the closure of Murdoch’s News of The World tabloid following allegations of phone hacking, including the voicemail of a murdered schoolgirl and dozens of public figures.
The reports sparked a public outcry and triggered a huge public inquiry into media ethics in Britain as well as a string of high-profile arrests.
More than 50 people have been arrested under investigations into hacking and corruption, including Rebekah Brooks, a former top aide to Murdoch and friend of British Prime Minister David Cameron and his former media chief Andy Coulson.
Saturday’s announcement has fueled speculation that News Corp could abandon his British newspapers entirely.
But in an email sent to staff at the group’s paper on Sunday, News International boss Tom Mockridge said Murdoch remains committed to chairing the British newspaper interests. – Agence France-Presse