UPDATE, 9 AM: The UK’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee has set its schedule for the next round of evidence sessions in the parliamentary body’s investigation into the News Of The World scandal. The big name on the latest list is Les Hinton, the former Wall Street Journal boss and Rupert Murdoch confidante who resigned in July; he ran News Corp’s UK newspaper division News International when the hacking was most rampant. Hinton will testify October 24 via video link. Of course, the biggest fish — News Corp No. 2 James Murdoch, the company’s deputy COO and heir apparent to his father — is not on the list … yet. Both he and Hinton have already testified but were summoned back to the committee last month.
PREVIOUS, 5:03 AM: News Corp is acting like it will have a fight on its hands at the October 21 shareholders’ meeting, even though CEO Rupert Murdoch controls more than enough votes to pretty much dictate the outcome. In an SEC filing this morning, the company responded to advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis, which urged investors to reject several board candidates including Deputy COO James Murdoch. News Corp says that it’s run by “sophisticated, world-class directors” who deserve to be re-elected. The company chafed at the advisory firms’ view that the board turned a blind eye to the News Of The World phone-hacking scandal. While the NOTW matter “could affect News Corporation’s results of operations and financial condition,” the company repeated its view that it “has already taken decisive actions to hold people accountable and will take all prudent steps designed to prevent something like (the NOTW scandal) from ever occurring again.” The filing also asks investors to look beyond the headlines and consider that the basic “drivers of our businesses are intact, our position is strong and our future is promising.” Although the proxy advisory firms attacked the board and management, the News Corp filing says that their “disregard of the exceptional performance by News Corporation” is also a slight against its “employees around the world.” The filing defended Rupert Murdoch’s $33.3M compensation package, up 46.5% from 2010. News Corp says that he “made significant contributions to drive the overall success of the business.” Most of his bonus was based on a calculation of adjusted operating income growth and “News Corporation met this target with…growth of 12% over the prior fiscal year.”