Musical Chairs down under

John Hartigan, the chair and chief executive of News Limited in Australia (News Limited owns 70pc of the Australian newspaper market), resigned a few days ago during Rupe’s annual visit to Oz and a day after the launch of a federal enquiry into media standards and regulation in the country.

When Hartigan stepped down (after 41 years with the company, 11 years as chief exec and 6 years as chair) he said “It is time to hand over to a new generation”. The new chair of News Corp in Australia will be ….

(wait for it) … Rupert Murdoch. The new chief exec will be Kim Williams, hot foot from his job as chief exec of Foxtel, Australia’s main pay-TV company which is 25pc owned by News Limited. Williams himself will be replaced by another Murdoch man – Richard Freudenstein, former BSkyB exec and boss of News Digital Media and The Australian.

Some new generation (and that’s not being ageist!).

Meanwhile back in the UK news broke yesterday that James Murdoch has resigned from the boards of the Sun and the Times (including the Sunday Times). The offical reason  went something like this:  News Corporation, the ultimate parent company, said James Murdoch’s departure from the boards was essentially a tidying up exercise. It added that the son of Rupert Murdoch remains as executive chairman of News International, which is the operation that runs the company’s three British newspapers. Insiders said that “nobody should read too much into the changes”. They noted that James Murdoch remains on the board of a holding company NI Group Ltd and the Times editorial board whose function it is to approve the appointment of new editors of that newspaper.

Some ‘tidying up’ exercise – some mess!