Broadcaster Distances Itself From News Corp.

The broadcaster, British Sky Broadcasting, or BSkyB, sought to distance itself from Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation conglomerate and, invoking the standard held by British regulators currently weighing the channel’s broadcast future, insisted that it was itself a “fit and proper” company to hold a broadcasting license. Last year News Corporation abandoned a $12 billion bid to assume full control of BSkyB when its British newspaper subsidiary, News International, a separate company, became mired in the phone hacking scandal that continues to spread through Mr. Murdoch’s empire, while also enmeshing some of Britain’s top politicians and law-enforcement officials.

“I would emphasize that it’s important to remember that Sky and News Corporation are separate companies,” BSkyB’s chief executive, Jeremy Darroch, told reporters on Wednesday, according to Reuters. “We believe that Sky’s track record as a broadcaster is the most important factor in determining our fitness to hold a license.”

On Tuesday, Parliament’s select committee on culture, media and sport concluded an investigation into the scandal, which last year prompted News International to close a mass-selling Sunday tabloid, The News of the World, and to reverse years of denials that wrongdoing at the newspaper was restricted to a single rogue reporter.

In a final report that reflected partisan rifts on the panel, 6 of the 10 committee members said Mr. Murdoch was unfit to run a major international corporation. A broader consensus backed the finding that three senior executives of News International had misled the committee in testimony. Two of them, Les Hinton and Colin Myler, rejected the charges. The third, Tom Crone, said he does “not accept” the allegations, Britain’s Press Association news agency reported. “I seem to be the subject of serious allegations which lack foundation,” he said. .

Members of the dominant Conservative Party opposed the direct censure of Mr. Murdoch, while members of the Liberal Democrat junior coalition partner joined the Labor opposition in supporting the censure. The division foreshadowed new difficulties for Prime Minister David Cameron, the Conservative leader, as he tries to navigate sharp questions about his own relationship with Murdoch executives.

The committee’s finding was portrayed by media analysts as an effort to influence Ofcom, Britain’s media regulator, as it seeks to ascertain whether BSkyB fulfills the ownership requirement of a “fit and proper” proprietor.

A day after the report’s publication, political turmoil continued with a Conservative member of the panel, Louise Mensch, saying the committee had never even discussed Mr. Murdoch’s suitability as head of a global empire — a charge some Labour figures rejected.

For his part, Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, urged the regulator to reach a conclusion about Mr. Murdoch’s part ownership of BSkyB.

But, as it reported its latest financial results, the broadcaster said: “The company is engaging with Ofcom in the process and continues to believe that it remains a fit and proper license holder, as demonstrated by its positive contribution to U.K. audiences, employment and the broader economy, as well as its strong record of regulatory compliance and high standards of governance.”

BSkyB charges subscriptions for access to a palette of programs, including sports, news, and movies, along with broadband and telephone services.

As the hacking scandal has unfolded, the broadcaster has admitted two instances of e-mail hacking by one reporter in 2008 and 2009.

When Sky News acknowledged the episodes last month, it said the hacking, while illegal, had been authorized by its executives for journalistic reasons — in pursuit of a story that benefited the public interest — and in one instance had helped a police investigation.

At the time, Roy Greenslade, a journalism professor at City University, London, said: “This is nothing like the hacking at The News of the World. But there’s an embarrassment in that it’s another News Corporation business, so people will be saying, ‘That’s just typical of Murdoch.’ ”

Just two days before the e-mail hacking came to light, James Murdoch, one of Rupert Murdoch’s sons, stepped down as chairman of BSkyB but retained a seat on the board. The company had been seen as a key component in News Corporation’s plans for European expansion.

Company officials said there was no link between the resignation and the hacking revelations, which have apparently had no impact on the profitability of BSkyB.

In the nine months of its financial year to March 31, 2012, BSkyB said on Wednesday, its net profits over that period rose by 19 percent compared with the same period a year earlier to the equivalent of $1.1 billion.

Julia Werdigier reported from London and Alan Cowell from Paris.


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