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James Murdoch safe at BSkyB

Satcaster's board set to back chairman

Heading into Thursday’s News Corp. board meeting, James Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer of News Corp., has landed some key backing to remain as chairman of U.K. paybox BSkyB.

Nicholas Ferguson, the paybox’s deputy chairman, gave Murdoch his support following a long conversation at a private meeting, according to a report in the Guardian newspaper. Ferguson is the liaison between shareholders, the chairman and the board, which was to meet today.

The board is expected to discuss Murdoch’s future — amid questions over Murdoch’s role in the phone-hacking scandal at Britain’s since-shuttered News of the World publication — as well as the satcaster’s annual results, due to be released Friday.

Crispen Odey of Odey Asset Management, which owns 2.7% of BSkyB, was quoted in the Daily Telegraph paper also pledging his support to Murdoch. But Odey said he wants the Murdoch family to relinquish one of its seats on the BSkyB board.

Murdoch’s impressive track record at BSkyB, where he was a successful CEO driving subscriber growth by investing in innovations like high definition before taking charge of News Intl., is likely to have convinced skeptics on the board.

He enjoys a good working relationship with the satcaster’s CEO, Jeremy Darroch.

“James is very committed to that business. He hopes and intends to stay completely engaged as non-executive chairman,” said a source close to him, according to the Guardian.

Last week ex-News of the World editor Colin Myler and News Intl. chief lawyer Tom Crone, who has also quit, contradicted James Murdoch’s evidence to MPs in which he claimed he had no knowledge that phone hacking was widespread at the tabloid in April 2008 when he greenlit a substantial payment to soccer official Gordon Taylor, whose phone messages had been intercepted.

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