Cookie consent

We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies. Tell me more | Cookie preferences

Regulator rules BSkyB 'fit and proper'

James Murdoch's conduct at News International has been heavily criticized by UK media watchdog Ofcom.

Story highlights

  • BSkyB found to be "fit and proper," UK's broadcasting regulator ruled Thursday
  • This was despite its former chairman's conduct at sister company, Ofcom said
  • James Murdoch stepped down as chairman of News International in February
  • He remains a non-executive director on the BSkyB board

James Murdoch's conduct at News International has been heavily criticised by Ofcom, but the broadcasting regulator has ruled that his shortcomings in dealing with the phone-hacking scandal did not warrant stripping its sister company, BSkyB, of its broadcast licence.

The UK's media watchdog on Thursday found that "James Murdoch's conduct in relation to events at News Group Newspapers [an NI subsidiary] repeatedly fell short of the conduct to be expected of him as a chief executive officer and chairman".

But it added: "Ofcom considers that the evidence available to date does not provide a reasonable basis to conclude that James Murdoch deliberately engaged in any wrongdoing."

The regulator was acting under the Broadcasting Act to rule whether BSkyB was still a "fit and proper person" to hold a licence to transmit television programmes.

Mr Murdoch served as executive chairman of NI from January 2008 until February this year.

In April, he also stepped down as chairman of BSkyB, saying that he did so to prevent phone hacking and other scandals at NI tainting the UK satellite broadcaster. He stayed on as a non-executive director on the BSkyB board.

      Just Watched

      News Corp. to become two companies

    News Corp. to become two companies 01:03
    PLAY VIDEO

      Just Watched

      Rupert Murdoch in a buying mood

    Rupert Murdoch in a buying mood 01:25
    PLAY VIDEO

      Just Watched

      Tony Blair explains Murdoch relationship

    Tony Blair explains Murdoch relationship 02:16
    PLAY VIDEO

    Ofcom said that in his current role, Mr Murdoch could not influence the company because there were 12 other directors. But it was clear that its view would have been different had he not stood down.

    In the investigation Ofcom examined links between the UK broadcaster and NI, owner of the Times and Sunday Times, The Sun and the now defunct News of the World and controlled by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp media empire, which also owns 39.1 per cent of BSkyB.

    News Corp, which shelved an attempt to buy the remainder of BSkyB it does not already own because of the phone hacking scandal, welcomed the Ofcom finding.

    "We are pleased that Ofcom recognises BSkyB as a fit and proper holder of a broadcast licence," the company said.

    However, it added that the criticism of James Murdoch was "not at all substantiated" by evidence.

    The News of the World was closed down by NI last year after evidence of systematic phone hacking by the Sunday tabloid. Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive of News International, is facing criminal charges.

    Thursday's finding that BSkyB was a "fit and proper" holder of a licence was handed down in spite of Sky News, the UK news channel run by BSkyB, previously admitting that it had hacked emails of individuals suspected of criminal activity, while claiming it did so in the public interest.

    Ofcom said on Thursday there was no evidence that Sky News was directly or indirectly involved in any of the wrongdoing either admitted or alleged to have taken place at News of the World or The Sun, but it added that it was considering a separate case on the email hacking under its broadcasting code.

    In May, a UK parliamentary committee declared Rupert Murdoch "not fit" to lead an international media company, in a damning report that criticised News Corp's handling of the phone-hacking scandal. However, the committee split six to four on party lines.

    Tom Watson, a member of that parliamentary committee, on Thursday told the BBC that he was disappointed by the Ofcom ruling and criticised its methodology.

    "They can't do deep investigations in the way that other organisations can and they also do hedge their bets," he said.

    BSkyB shares rose 1 per cent to 735p in afternoon London trading.

      CNN Business

    • An Iraqi worker adjusts a control valve at the Daura oil refinery on November 5, 2009 in Baghdad, Iraq. Iraq and a grouping of U.S and European oil companies Exxon Mobil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell PLC signed a $50 billion contract today to develop the West Qurna oilfield, two days after the Iraqi South Oil Company signed a technical service contract with Britain's BP and China's CNPC to develop the Rumaila oilfield. The Iraqi government is trying to attract foreign investment, especially in the oil sector, in hopes of reviving its war-torn economy. Iraq has the third largest oil reserve in the world but it is producing way below its potential. (Photo by Muhannad Fala'ah/Getty Images)

      Airstrikes, rebels seizing control of oil fields, plus a severe refugee crisis are a recipe for market panic. So why are Iraq oil prices stable?
    • A view of gloves and boots used by medical staff, drying in the sun, at a center for victims of the Ebola virus in Guekedou, on April 1, 2014. The viral haemorrhagic fever epidemic raging in Guinea is caused by several viruses which have similar symptoms -- the deadliest and most feared of which is Ebola. AFP PHOTO / SEYLLOU (Photo credit should read SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images)

      The biggest Ebola outbreak in history is taking its toll in Western Africa, hitting some of West Africa's most vulnerable economies.
    • People enter a casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 18, 2009. Las Vegas is the most populus city in the US state of Nevada and internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, fine dining and entertainment. Las Vegas which bills itself as the �Entertainment Capital of the World� is famous for the number of casino resorts and associated entertainment. AFP PHOTO/Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

      Macau has overtaken Switzerland in the wealth stakes, being named the world's fourth richest territory by the World Bank.
    • spc marketplace middle east ata atmar a_00010015.jpg

      Saudi Arabian Bateel brand is best known for its delectable dates but it now has more than a dozen cafes and a new bakery in the works.
    • Vantablack designed by Surrey NanoSystems absorbs 99.96% of all light. It however will not be the solution to the creating the world's ultimate slimming black dress! A dress made out of this material would render the curves and contours of the human body invisible and would leave the wearer looking like 'two dimensional cardboard cut-out.'

      A British nanotech company has created what it says is the world's darkest material. It is so dark the human eye can't discern its shape and form.
    • Jibo robot is designed to be an organizer, educator and assist family members. CNN's Maggie Lake met him and says she was impressed with his skills.
    • A picture taken on March 15, 2014 shows children playing at the sprawling desert Zaatari refugee camp in northern Jordan near the border with Syria which provides shelter to around 100,000 Syrian refugees. Syrian refugees in the seven-square-kilometre (2.8-square-mile) Zaatari camp in Jordan fear that President Bashar al-Assad's likely re-election this year will leave their dream of a return home as distant as ever. The brutal war in Syria between the regime and its foes shows no sign of abating and has killed at least 146,000 people since it erupted in mid-March 2011. And 2.5 million Syrians have fled abroad and another 6.5 million have been internally displaced. Jordan is home to more than 500,000 of the refugees.

      Sandwiched in between Iraq and Syria, Jordan's destiny seems to be one of a constant struggle for survival. John Defterios explains.
    • SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 18: Queen Elizabeth II wears 3 D glasses to watch a display and pilot a JCB digger, during a visit to the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research centre, on November 18, 2010 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by John Giles - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

      At the last football World Cup, it was all about 3D. This time around, it's nothing less than 4K.
    • An Iraqi worker adjusts a control valve at the Daura oil refinery on November 5, 2009 in Baghdad, Iraq. Iraq and a grouping of U.S and European oil companies Exxon Mobil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell PLC signed a $50 billion contract today to develop the West Qurna oilfield, two days after the Iraqi South Oil Company signed a technical service contract with Britain's BP and China's CNPC to develop the Rumaila oilfield. The Iraqi government is trying to attract foreign investment, especially in the oil sector, in hopes of reviving its war-torn economy. Iraq has the third largest oil reserve in the world but it is producing way below its potential. (Photo by Muhannad Fala'ah/Getty Images)

      Iraq produces 3.3 million barrels per day and has the world's fourth-largest oil reserves. But the current crisis is putting all this in danger.
    • Valves of gas pipe-line are seen in the gas station not far from Kiev on March 4, 2014. The European Union will help Ukraine pay the $2.0 billion it owes to Russian gas giant Gazprom, a top official said Tuesday, as part of an aid package reportedly worth more than one billion euros. AFP PHOTO/ ANDREY SINITSIN (Photo credit should read ANDREY SINITSIN/AFP/Getty Images)

      The gas standoff between Russia and Ukraine could have a knock-on effect on Europe. Explore this map to find out why is the EU nervous.