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James Murdoch resigns as News International chairman

Murdoch remains News Corporation chief operating officer and keeps responsibility for BSkyB as he moves to New York

James Murdoch has stepped down as chairman of News International, the publisher of the Sun and Times, in an internal News Corporation reshuffle.

Wednesday’s move sees him give up responsibility for News Corp’s crisis-hit British newspaper operation as he completes his relocation to New York.

The man once seen as his father Rupert Murdoch’s automatic heir at the top of News Corp retains existing responsibility for “global television”, overseeing busineses including the company’s 39% stake in BSkyB, Sky-branded pay-TV companies in Europe and Star in Asia – and only gains the opportunity to become involved with the company’s US Fox television operation as he settles in across the Atlantic.

James Murdoch’s managerial move away from News International explains why he was not in London to help oversee the launch of the Sun’s Sunday edition, which has been personally supervised by his father.

Friends say he has been eager to leave the UK and drop responsibility for the Wapping newspapers for several months as the phone hacking scandal enveloped the London outpost of the organisation.

He has faced repeated questions over what he knew about the extent of phone-hacking at the News of the World.

Although the hacking is known to have gone on until 2006, before Murdoch arrived, he presided over a period in 2009 and 2010 where News International denied again and again that phone-hacking was more widespread than the activities of a “single rogue” reporter.

News International, meanwhile, becomes the only newspaper unit of the company not to report directly to a man named Murdoch.

News International chief executive Tom Mockridge will now report to Chase Carey, the US television executive who is the company’s number two, its president and chief operating officer.

By contrast those who run Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal publisher, and News Ltd, the Australian newspaper operation, both report directly to Rupert Murdoch.

James Murdoch took up the job overseeing News International in December 2007, when he joined News Corp from BSkyB, where he had been chief executive. At the time he also became the chief executive for News Corporation Europe and Asia, responsibilities which he retains.

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