LONDON — Once his father's heir apparent, James Murdoch stepped down Tuesday as chairman of British Sky Broadcasting, surrendering one of the biggest jobs in the Murdoch media empire in a bid to distance the broadcaster from a phone hacking scandal.
James Murdoch's credibility and competence have come under severe questioning because of the phone hacking crisis and alleged bribery by British newspapers while he was in charge, and he faces further questioning in the scandal.
"I am aware that my role as chairman could become a lightning rod for BSkyB and I believe that my resignation will help to ensure that there is no false conflation with events at a separate organization," the 39-year-old son of Rupert Murdoch said.
Tuesday's announcement was just the latest in a string of setbacks for James Murdoch, who has been shedding titles since the scandal heated up. In February, he quit as chairman of News International, the company's troubled British newspaper subsidiary, a move cast as allowing him to focus on TV holdings.
Nicholas Ferguson, formerly deputy chairman, moved up to replace the younger Murdoch as chairman at BSkyB.
The phone hacking scandal has already effectively killed a bid by News Corp. to take full control of BSkyB and raised questions about the Murdoch empire's fitness to control the satellite broadcaster. At least 25 past and present employees of News International have been arrested in the police investigations of phone hacking, bribery and computer hacking. News International has settled about 60 lawsuits, at a cost of millions of dollars.