TUESDAY 3 APR 2012 4:02 PM


James Murdoch has announced his resignation as chairman of BSkyB in a letter to the Board.

After an elongated series of firings, arrests and resignations in the wake of the phone hacking scandal, Murdoch’s decision to step down comes as little surprise. But the question is “Why now?”

The Leveson Inquiry is yet to reach a conclusion and News Corporations’ string of reactions raises a number of uncertainties over their communications strategy.

An expert in family-owned businesses at Cass Business School, Professor Ajay Bhalla, says James Murdoch’s resignation marks a shift towards the family taking a backseat in managing News Corporation.

“At this point, James Murdoch has first and foremost an obligation to preserve the Murdoch family’s wealth and reputation,” he said.

“In the near future, we are likely to see the family opting for private rather public ownership - all in the name of family and the next generation.”

In his resignation letter, Murdoch says: "I am aware that my role as chairman could become a lightning rod for BSkyB and I believe that my resignation will help to ensure that there is no false conflation with events at a separate organisation."

Murdoch continues: “As attention continues to be paid to past events at News International, I am determined that the interests of BSkyB should not be undermined by matters outside the scope of this Company."

Murdoch will continue to work for the corporation as non-executive director, and is succeeded by Nicholas Ferguson.