News Corp Execs Defend Fox Business, Question Hulu Sale Plans

UPDATE 3:10 PM: Rupert Murdoch gave his son James — and the News Corp board — a vote of confidence today in the CEO’s first Q&A with analysts and reporters since early July, when the News Of The World hacking scandal turned his company upside down. Murdoch says that he and COO Chase Carey “have full confidence” in James to be a potential CEO of News Corp — even though three former company executives say James misled members of Parliament last month in his testimony about the scandal. Rupert joked that he hopes his job “won’t be open in the near future.” He added that “in the end it’s a matter for the board” to decide. And he says he does not plan to make any changes at the board, which is filled with directors who have close ties to his family. “It’s a very strong board — very often very critical,” Murdoch said. He specifically backed Viet Dihn, who’s classified as an independent director and is overseeing the company’s scandal investigation even though he’s also a godfather to one of Rupert’s grandchildren. Dihn “is a completely independent director,” Murdoch says. He sidestepped a question about how he now would alert himself to ethical problems at News Corp saying that “in retrospect we should have continued investigating” reports about hacking at NOTW that surfaced years ago. Reciting what sounded like well-rehearsed talking points, Murdoch said: “Were there a dozen guilty people or two dozen? We are cooperating totally with police in their investigation and expect it to go on for some time.” Meanwhile Murdoch says he still wants to hold on to his newspaper assets in the UK and U.S. “I’m shocked and appalled at what happened at one small corner,” he says. “Everything else is fine.”

PREVIOUS, 1:08 PM: Rupert Murdoch says that he and the News Corp board believe that “I should continue” to be chairman and CEO. But he added that COO “Chase Carey and I run this company as a team.” Murdoch said in a conference call with analysts and reporters that “I’ve run this company for more than 50 years” and reporting tactics including the phone hacking discovered at News Of The World “have no place at News Corp.” He says that the board and the company have independently hired outside lawyers and a corporate governance expert to sort through the issues raised by the scandal. “There can be no doubt about our commitment to ethics and integrity,” Murdoch said.

Murdoch amplified on a prepared comment in the company’s just-released earnings statement for the June quarter. “While it has been a good quarter from a financial point of view,” he says, “our company has faced challenges in recent weeks relating to our London tabloid, News Of The World. We are acting decisively in the matter and will do whatever is necessary to prevent something like this from ever occurring again.” He adds that “it is important to note that there has been no material impact on our other operations.”