Murdoch remains BSkyB chairman
British pay-TV giant BSkyB said yesterday that James Murdoch will remain chairman despite the phone-hacking row at main shareholder News Corp, as the broadcaster revealed a 23-percent jump in profits.
The firm also announced a £750-million ($1.2-billion, 854-million-euro) share buyback and hiked its shareholder dividend to calm the waters after the scandal forced Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. this month to scrap a takeover bid for BSkyB.
The crisis had sparked calls for Rupert's son James to resign the chairmanship of BSkyB, but the company's board gave him their unanimous support at a meeting late on Thursday.
"Following the withdrawal of the News Corporation proposal, the board will return to normal processes. James Murdoch remains chairman," BSkyB said in an annual results statement yesterday.
Operating profits soared to £1.073 billion in the 12 months to June, compared with £872 million in the group's previous financial year, BSkyB said in the statement. That was in line with market expectations.
BSkyB, which broadcasts live English Premier League football and blockbuster movies, added that it now has 10.3 million household subscribers, a proportion of whom pay monthly fees to access its Internet broadband and telephone services.
The scandal erupted earlier this month when it emerged that the News of the World, News Corp.'s market-leading British Sunday tabloid newspaper, had hacked the voicemail messages of murdered 13-year-old schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
Rupert Murdoch shut down the paper on July 7 but faced with intense political and public pressure News Corp. called off its bid for the 61 percent of BSkyB shares that it did not already own on July 13.
A judge-led inquiry into the scandal formally opened on Thursday in Britain.
Just hours later fresh allegations emerged that an investigator blamed for much of the News of the World hacking had targeted the mother of a second murdered girl, on whose behalf the paper had campaigned.
Sara Payne, the mother of eight-year-old Sarah Payne who was killed by a paedophile in 2000, was "absolutely devastated" after police told her that her voicemail might have been hacked by the paper.