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Rupert Murdoch steps down from boards

By David Ariosto, CNN
July 21, 2012 -- Updated 2233 GMT (0633 HKT)
Rupert Murdoch's UK operations have been under intense scrutiny over phone hacking revelations.
Rupert Murdoch's UK operations have been under intense scrutiny over phone hacking revelations.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rupert Murdoch steps down as director from a string of company boards
  • A spokesman calls it "nothing more than a corporate house-cleaning exercise"
  • News Corp. is expected to be divided in coming months

(CNN) -- Rupert Murdoch has stepped down from a string of company boards of directors just one month after his embattled News Corporation announced plans to separate publishing interests from its lucrative television and film operations.

The Australian-born media mogul made the move last week, according to a spokesman for News International, a British arm of News Corp.

While Murdoch is expected to remain chairman of both companies, he will be CEO of only the television and film side, further distancing himself from the print business that first brought him fame and fortune.

It's not clear who will be CEO of the publishing company, which would be less than one-third the size of its counterpart.

The News International spokesman on Saturday played down Murdoch's boards resignation, calling it "nothing more than a corporate house-cleaning exercise prior to the company split."

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News Corp., a Murdoch-controlled media conglomerate, is expected to be divided in the next 12 months. The split comes after some of its U.K.-based newspapers were thrust to the center of a recent phone-hacking scandal.

His British operations have remained under intense scrutiny after revelations of widespread phone hacking, which included celebrities and public officials, by people working for his newspapers.

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The controversy prompted News Corp. to shut down its venerable British tabloid, News of the World, last year, and preceded a decision to withdraw a multi-billion-dollar bid to take over British Sky Broadcasting.

The coming split would separate operations like 20th Century Fox film studio, Fox broadcast network and Fox News Channel from the firm's newspapers holdings such as Britain's The Sun, the London Times and the London Sunday Times.

News Corp.'s American media holdings include The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and Barron's. Its book publishing assets include such companies as HarperCollins.

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CNN's Richard Quest contributed to this report.

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