James Murdoch is to return as the chairman of Sky four years after a phone-hacking scandal forced him out.

The moves sees him regaining his grip on a pay-TV group that now spans five European countries and is growing strongly. 

Murdoch's return to a senior role in Britain could fuel speculation that 21st Century Fox, the global media group which Murdoch runs from New York, may seek to buy all of Sky instead of just the 39% it now holds. 

The younger son of the media tycoon stepped down as the chairman of the-then BSkyB in 2012, forced out by his links to a tabloid phone-hacking scandal at the family's now-defunct News of the World newspaper. 

Having returned to New York he rebuilt his career and in 2015 was named the chief executive of 21st Century Fox, one of the most biggest media companies in the world. 

"James' deep knowledge of the international media industry and his passion for supporting Sky's ongoing success will make an even greater contribution to our business in the future," Sky's chief executive Jeremy Darroch said today.

Murdoch returns to a company that, in his absence, has expanded into Europe with assets in Germany, Austria, Italy, Britain and Ireland. 

Today it announced a better-than-expected 12% rise in profit helped by a record number of new customers. 

Operating profit hit £747m for the six months to the end of December, ahead of the £727m expected by analysts according to a company-supplied consensus. 

The company added 337,000 new customers in the second quarter, with strong growth in both TV and broadband and its highest numbers of new customers in its biggest UK and Ireland market for 10 years. 

Murdoch replaces Nick Ferguson, who has been chairman since 2012 and on the board for 12 years, at the end of April.