News Corp's board back Murdoch

News Corporation’s board has announced its full confidence in Rupert Murdoch’s “fitness” and its support for him to remain at the helm of the company.

The directors’ vote of confidence in the media mogul came after he was told in a report by a committee of MPs yesterday that he was “not a fit person” to run an international company.

The board of directors disagreed, issuing a statement saying he had “demonstrated resolve to address the mistakes of the company identified in the Select Committee’s report”.

The statement said: ``The board of directors of News Corporation met today and announced its full confidence in Rupert Murdoch's fitness and support for his continuing to lead News Corporation into the future as its chairman and CEO.

“The board based its vote of confidence on Rupert Murdoch’s vision and leadership in building News Corporation, his ongoing performance as chairman and CEO, and his demonstrated resolve to address the mistakes of the company identified in the select committee’s report.”

Satellite broadcaster BSkyB, which is 39%-controlled by News Corporation, insisted earlier it was still ``a fit and proper licence-holder'' as it remained under the glare of media regulator Ofcom.

The watchdog is considering whether BSkyB should hold a broadcast licence in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal at News International, which is owned by News Corp.

BSkyB, which revealed a net rise in customers of 78,000 to 10.5 million in the three months to March 31, hailed its “positive contribution to UK audiences, employment and the broader economy”.

The phone-hacking scandal, which led to the closure of Sunday tabloid the News of the World, scuppered News Corp’s plans to take full control of BSkyB and ultimately led to Mr Murdoch’s son, James, stepping down as chairman of the broadcaster.

Elsewhere in the update, BSkyB said it had concluded a review of editorial practices at Sky News and “found no evidence of impropriety or cause for concern”.

Referring to two incidents in which a Sky News journalist accessed the email of individuals suspected of criminal activity, BSkyB said “the action was justified in the public interest and subject to proper editorial oversight”.

The backing of Mr Murdoch by News Corp's board follows reported rumblings of discontent from some US shareholders keen to see the company distance itself further from the UK scandal.

Responding to the findings of the Commons Culture Committee report, News Corp admitted it had highlighted “hard truths”.

There had been “serious wrongdoing” at the News of the World, the company’s response had been “too slow and too defensive”, and some employees had misled the MPs in 2009, it conceded.

But the highly contentious investigation into the phone-hacking affair split the committee on party lines.

While committee members agreed unanimously that Mr Murdoch’s media empire had misled their inquiry in a “blatant fashion”, Tory MPs refused to support the report after Labour and the sole Liberal Democrat pushed through the criticism of Mr Murdoch by a vote of six to four.

Labour MP Tom Watson, who tabled the amendment, said he was disappointed that the Conservatives had been unwilling to sign up.

“These people corrupted our country. They brought shame on our police force and our Parliament. They lied, they cheated, blackmailed and bullied and we should all be ashamed when we think how we cowered before them for too long,” he said.

But Conservative Louise Mensch said Mr Watson’s insistence on inserting a conclusion that was “wildly outside the scope” of the inquiry had undermined the report’s credibility.

News Corp's board of directors convened their meeting - which mainly took place by phone - in response to the publication of the committee's report.

A source close to the company said: “The report came out and the board understood its importance and met to review its findings.”

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