Murdoch survives News Corp vote

Friday 21 October 2011 23.55
Murdoch settlement with Dowler family
Murdoch settlement with Dowler family

News Corp shareholders have re-elected the media conglomerate's board of directors and failed to approve a proposal to oust Rupert Murdoch from his chairman post.

News Corp did not disclose the specific results, including how many investors withheld their shares from voting or how many voted against the directors, among them Mr Murdoch and his sons.

The company said in a press release that it would file the numbers with the US Securities and Exchange Commission early next week.

Earlier News Corp subsidiary News International confirmed that it will make a payout of £2m to the family of Milly Dowler, who was at the centre of Britain's phone-hacking scandal.

Mr Murdoch said he would make a personal donation of £1m to charities chosen by the family, saying it "underscores my regret" for the actions of the now-defunct News of the World.

"When I met with the Dowlers in July, I expressed how deeply sorry I was for the hurt we had caused this family," Mr Murdoch said in a joint statement released by News International and the Dowler family.

"The behaviour that the News of the World exhibited towards the Dowlers was abhorrent and I hope this donation underscores my regret for the company’s role in this awful event.

"I also hope that through the personal donation something positive can be done in memory of their daughter."

Reports of the settlement first emerged in September but had not been confirmed by the firm.

The News of the World was shut down in August after a public outcry when it emerged a private investigator working for the Sunday tabloid hacked into the dead girl's voicemail after she went missing in 2002.

The 13-year-old's remains were found six months later in a forest.

Murdoch defends position as CEO

However Mr Murdoch proved adept at crisis management during News Corp's shareholder meeting, striking contentious and comedic tones to disarm legions of angry investors who showed up looking to draw corporate blood.

Mr Murdoch began the meeting with perfunctory comments about being "personally determined" to right News Corp's wrongs, saying it "must be an ethical company" and that it has been subject to "fair criticism and unfair attack."

"We cannot just be a profitable company, we must be a principled company," he said in his opening remarks.

However that was as conciliatory as Mr Murdoch would get during the meeting.

Unlike sons Lachlan and James, who sat quietly during the 75-minute meeting, Mr Murdoch stood defiant in the face of tough questioning about News Corp's corporate governance and a proposal to strip him of the long-held chairman role that goes along with his CEO title.

He also faced fresh allegations of computer hacking that piggyback off the phone hacking charges that are responsible for putting Mr Murdoch in his precarious position.

In addition to the roughly 150 people crowded into the Zanuck Theatre on the Fox Studios lot in Hollywood, about 100 others remained outside to voice their opposition to the company, with signs reading, "Murdoch isn't above the law" and "Big Media, Big Money, Get Out."