James Murdoch has been re-elected as the chairman of British broadcaster BSkyB, but critics who wanted him to resign over the phone hacking scandal that has rocked Britain say his position is weakened.
BSkyB said Murdoch won the support of more than 81 per cent of shareholders who voted on Tuesday, while nearly 19 per cent voted against him at the company’s annual meeting.
News Corporation, the media conglomerate controlled by Murdoch’s father Rupert Murdoch, owns 39 per cent of the company.
Labour Party MP Chris Bryant said the vote showed that a large number of shareholders are dissatisfied with Murdoch.
“He’s got the rules, funds and family behind him – but I still think, as this row goes on, the writing’s on the wall,” Bryant said.
“I strongly suspect Sky will have dispensed with his services by this time next year.”
James Murdoch is chairman of News International, the group that owned the News of the World tabloid at the centre of the hacking scandal, but he has always denied knowing that phone hacking was widespread there.
News Corp abandoned an attempt to take charge of the remaining 61 per cent of BSkyB in July as details of phone hacking emerged.
James Murdoch had been widely thought to be the heir to his father’s media empire, and the proposed News Corp takeover of BSkyB would have boosted his profile within the company, as well as given News Corp full control of a lucrative broadcaster.
News Corp dropped its takeover attempt after it was revealed that News of the World employees had hacked into the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and deleted some messages. The revelations led News International to close the tabloid.
In his chairman’s statement to BSkyB shareholders, Murdoch said News Corp “remains a committed, long-term shareholder in Sky”.
An effort to oust Murdoch from the News Corp board fell short last month with 35 per cent of shareholders at the company’s annual meeting opposing his re-election to the board of directors.
BSkyB deputy chairman Nicholas Ferguson told shareholders that Murdoch was doing a good job.
“He runs an excellent board,” he said. “Discussions are open and frank, his chairing is very good. He has put in place strong governance procedures. He has a strong strategic view.”