News Corp. on Sunday announced that Tom Mockridge, CEO of News International, is leaving the company to “pursue outside opportunities” after about 18 months in that role but many years with the company.
His decision comes as News Corp. continues its mitosis into two companies, one being its film and television businesses and the other its newspapers and book publishing operations. Many predicted Mockridge would be chosen to lead the latter company, a role that the Wall Street Journal (itself a News Corp. newspaper) reported will go to Wall Street Journal managing editor Robert Thomson.
**UPDATE** News Corp. has officially confirmed Thomson’s promotion.
Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp., unequivocally said in a statement about Mockridge: “His decision to step down is absolutely and entirely his own.”
Mockridge was named to his current position after his predecessor Rebekah Brooks tendered her resignation while authorities were investigating her role in the phone hacking scandal that gripped Britain for several months and led to the News of the World newspaper closing down.
The case against Brooks on charges related to the scandal is expected to go to trial in 2013. Also, she and ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson are due to appear in court on Dec. 6 to face allegations that they paid public officials for information.
Before his promotion, Mockridge led Sky Italia, News Corp.’s broadcasting arm in Italy that he helped create. He joined News Corp.’s News Ltd. in Australia in 1991, after which he became CEO of Foxtel, then a key executive at Star TV, then CEO of what was then the company’s New Zealand newspaper operations and chair of SkyNZ, and subsequently CEO European Television.
Murdoch said: “For nearly 22 years, it has been my pleasure to have Tom Mockridge as a colleague. Whether it was his early days with our newspaper group in Australia, his incredible work building SKY Italia, or his steadfast leadership of News International, Tom has always been a skilled executive and a trusted friend … I am sorry to see him leave us but I know he will be a great success wherever he goes.”
News Corp. – press release
Wall Street Journal – Journal’s Top Editor to Run Spin-Off