Media baron Rupert Murdoch’s television company in the UK today got a clean chit from regulator Ofcom following an investigation sparked by the phone-hacking controversy, but it criticised former Sky chairman, James Murdoch, for his role in the scandal.

The phone-hacking row at Murdoch’s newspaper titles (owned by News Group Newspapers) were not linked to Sky, but the regulator decided to launch investigation since the companies were part of his News Corporation.

Murdoch owns 39 per cent of Sky.

Ofcom is obliged to continuously satisfy itself that companies awarded television and other media licences are ‘fit and proper’ to hold them.

In its report, Ofcom concluded that Sky was a “fit and proper” company to hold a broadcasting licence, but it criticised James Murdoch for his role in the phone-hacking scandal.

It said his actions “repeatedly fell short of the conduct” expected of a chief executive officer and chairman.

Ofcom said, “To date, there is no evidence that Sky was directly or indirectly involved in any of the wrongdoing either admitted or alleged to have taken place at News of the World (NOTW) or The Sun. Ofcom considers that, on the evidence currently available and having taken into account all the relevant factors, Sky is fit and proper to hold its broadcast licences.”

On James Murdoch, it said, “Ofcom considers on the basis of the evidence available to date and for the reasons set out in this decision that James Murdoch’s conduct in relation to events at NGN repeatedly fell short of the conduct to be expected of him as a chief executive officer and chairman“.

It added, “However, Ofcom considers that the evidence available to-date does not provide a reasonable basis to conclude that James Murdoch deliberately engaged in any wrongdoing. We consider James Murdoch’s conduct, including his failure to initiate action on his own account on a number of occasions, to be both difficult to comprehend and ill-judged.”

Sky welcomed Ofcom’s conclusion, “Ofcom is right to conclude that Sky is a fit and proper broadcaster. As a company, we are committed to high standards of governance and we take our regulatory obligations extremely seriously.”

(This article was published on September 20, 2012)
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