LONDON — Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, News Corporation, announced on Wednesday that his son James had stepped down as executive chairman of News International, the British newspaper subsidiary that is embroiled in layers of overlapping police and judicial inquiries into phone hacking and illegal payments to the police.
A statement from News Corporation depicted the step as part of James Murdoch’s move to the company’s headquarters in New York, announced a year ago. But many media analysts said the move seemed to reflect the more recent travails of News International, whose newspapers include The Sun, The Times of London and The Sunday Times of London.
Last July, Rupert and James Murdoch sat side by side at a British parliamentary inquiry as legislators demanded to know the full extent of a phone-hacking scandal at The News of the World, a weekly tabloid newspaper that News International shut down last year. The company had initially claimed the hacking was the work of a single rogue reporter.
But since then the scandal has spread and and News International has begun paying settlement money to scores of celebrities whose voicemail accounts were broken into.
The News Corporation statement on Wednesday said that Tom Mockridge, chief executive of News International, would continue in his role and report to Chase Carey, president of News Corporation.
”We are all grateful for James’ leadership at News International and across Europe and Asia, where he has made lasting contributions to the group’s strategy,” the elder Mr. Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of the parent company, said in a statement.
Mr. Murdoch said that James would now focus on the company’s pay-television businesses and its international operations. The younger Mr. Murdoch was named News Corporation’s deputy chief operating officer last year, and he cut more ties in London by stepping down from the board of British-based drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline.
”I deeply appreciate the dedication of my many talented colleagues at News International” James Murdoch said in the statement. “News International is now in a strong position to build on its successes in the future.”