Elisabeth Murdoch will not join her father and brothers on News Corporation’s board, following suggestions the Murdoch family were too dominant at the media conglomerate.
After News Corp purchased Elisabeth’s TV production company Shine Group, known for making dramas such as The Tudors and Ashes to Ashes, in February, her father, Rupert Murdoch, said he expected his daughter would join News Corp’s board once the acquisition was completed.
At the time, some though the Shine deal indicated that Elisabeth was being favoured as the most likely successor to her father.
However, she has since suggested her nomination to the board would be “inappropriate”, according to Viet Dinh, chairman of the nominating and corporate governance committee of News Corporation’s board of directors.
He said in a statement: “The independent directors agreed that the previously planned nomination should be delayed.”
The move is likely to be influenced by the current phone-hacking scandal involving News International, the UK division of News Corp, which saw journalists at the now defunct British newspaper News of the World allegedly listen illegally to voicemails belonging to non-famous people, as well as celebrities.
The scandal has led to accusations the current board did not fully appreciate the scale of the crisis and were too beholden to the Murdoch family.
Rupert, the current chairman and chief executive officer of News Corp, sits alongside sons Lachlan and James, the heir apparent, on the board, with the Murdoch family controlling 40% of the voting rights.
“Both Elisabeth and the board hope this decision reaffirms that News Corp aspires to the highest standards of corporate governance and will continue to act in the best interests of all stakeholders, be they shareholders, employees or the billions of consumers whom News Corp content informs, entertains and sometimes provokes every year,” said Dinh.
He has been tasked with investigating and providing the independent directors with updates on the hacking crisis, although some have questioned whether his close friendship with Lachlan will allow an impartial review. Dinh is godfather to Lachlan’s second child and they have known each other since 2003.
News Corp will release its fourth-quarter results and full-year earnings on Wednesday evening, with analysts expecting the company to announce a strong performance.
A source close to the conglomerate told the Wall Street Journal that News Corp is hoping the financial results will defuse the current situation, helping to draw attention away from the company’s troublesome division in the UK.