4 Dec 2012

Murdoch opts for another NZ executive

10:03 am on 4 December 2012

Media baron Rupert Murdoch has turned from one straight-talking New Zealander to another, appointing pay-TV executive Mike Darcey to run his troubled British newspaper arm.

Mr Darcey will replace Tom Mockridge, another former Murdoch TV executive, who quit on Sunday.

He will become chief executive of News International at the start of the year, before a series of criminal trials stemming from the phone hacking scandal and a group restructuring that could expose the newspapers to a harsh economic climate.

Mr Murdoch revealed the appointment of the 47-year-old, who has no newspaper experience, as part of a wider announcement detailing how he will split his News Corp media conglomerate into two publicly-traded companies.

The more profitable pay-TV and film assets will be held in one entertainment arm called Fox, while the smaller publishing division will retain the News Corp name and include newspapers such as the British titles, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and HarperCollins book publisher.

The publishing arm will be run by Robert Thomson, the current managing editor of the Wall street Journal and editor in chief of its publisher Dow Jones.

Mr Mockridge was brought in to run News International at the height of the phone hacking scandal that engulfed the News of the World tabloid last year.

He brought stability to the Sun and Times newspapers by maintaining a low profile and introducing a raft of digital initiatives that saved costs and boosted digital readership, Reuters reports.

"To be direct, the reason I am leaving is that the new structure does not offer me a role I am comfortable with," he said in an email to staff seen by Reuters, in reference to the fact he lost out on the top publishing job to Mr Thomson.

"After 22 years with the company in five countries, I feel I have made enough of a contribution to make a personal choice to go."