Shareholders Vote Murdoch's Sons off News Corp Board. Rupert Votes to Keep Them. Guess Who Wins?

Last Updated Oct 25, 2011 2:46 PM EDT

If it were up to the people who own News Corp (NWSA) Rupert Murdoch's sons would be fired. Because of the company's preferred stock system, Rupert can make sure this doesn't happen.

Friday's tumultuous annual meeting included voting for the board of directors. The results were released yesterday and are an all-out rejection of James and Lachlan Murdoch staying on the board.

More than a third of the votes went against the brothers and the numbers are a lot worse once you strip away dad's 40 percent of the Class B voting shares. Remove the votes of people not named Murdoch and two-thirds of the vote went against the Dynastic Duo.

One of the investors who voted against them, the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors, said it will be asking independent directors "what the board is going to do about such a significant vote." Good luck finding one. Any truly independent directors would be too embarrassed about working for the Duchy of Rupert to stay in the job. So far, there have been no resignations - or statements about this - by any board member.

Any director not already totally appalled at the farce that is News Corp governance, should just wait a few weeks. That's when James, the deputy chief operating officer, is being called back in front of Parliament next month to testify again about the phone hacking scandal. In July he and his octogenarian father appeared before Parliament and denied knowing about or condoning anything about the hacking. Since then a number of James' subordinates have gone before Parliament and contradicted his version of the events.

Sadly none of this will make the least bit of difference in who runs the company. James and Lachlan Murdoch got their jobs because of their father and are keeping them for the same reason.


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    Constantine von Hoffman is a freelance writer and writing coach. His work has appeared in outlets such as Harvard Business Review, NPR, Sierra magazine, Brandweek, CIO, The Boston Herald,, CSO, and Boston Magazine.