In his resignation from chairmanship of BSkyB, James Murdoch strikes a new, apologetic tone

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James Murdoch. ()
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The scandal beat

In a further sign of James Murdoch's diminishing usefulness in his father Rupert's News Corp. media empire, the British satellite broadcaster BSkyB announced today that James has resigned as chairman of the company, of which his family owns a roughly 40-percent stake.

Maybe it's that small stake that made this announcement seem so different from the announcement in February that James had relinquished the title of chairman of News International, News Corp.'s British newspaper publishing unit that was at the center of the phone-hacking saga.

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Back then, a News Corp.-released statement made no mention of the scandal and suggested ludicrously that James was moving on to bigger and better things.

But today's announcement, less fully controlled by the Murdochs than the last, admits that the problem with James is indeed his proximity to the alleged malfeasance among some of News Corp's U.K. journalists.

“As attention continues to be paid to past events at News International, I am determined that the interests of BSkyB should not be undermined by matters outside the scope of this Company," Murdoch wrote in a statement to the BSkyB board, which was distributed to the media by News Corp. “I am aware that my role as Chairman could become a lightning rod for BSkyB and I believe that my resignation will help to ensure that there is no false conflation with events at a separate organisation.”

News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch and his deputy, C.O.O. Chase Carey, released a companion statement in support of James.

“We are grateful for James Murdoch’s successful leadership of BSkyB," they said. "He has played a major role in propelling the company into the market-leading position it enjoys today – and in the process has been instrumental in creating substantial value for News Corporation shareholders. We look forward to BSkyB’s continued growth under the leadership of Nicholas Ferguson and Jeremy Darroch and to James’ continued substantial contributions at News Corporation.”

James Murdoch has also recently given up his seats on the boards of auction house Sotheby's and a pharmaceutical company.

Anchor away

It's day five of Current-gate, and the dust from the network's controversial firing of Keith Olbermann last Friday still hasn't quite settled.

On the news front, Current TV has retained a powerhouse crisis-P.R. firm to steer it through what is sure to be a closely-watched legal brawl with the mercurial cable news host and liberal pundit. And while Olbermann's been stirring the pot with a steady stream of 140-character outbursts, Current chief executive Joel Hyatt appears to be taking the high-road, telling his staff in a memo: "We will be happy to engage on the law and the facts in the appropriate forum. Twitter is not that forum. And we will leave it to others to pound the table."

Spitballs aside, what's next for Olbermann, who's butted heads with management at the last two networks that have employed him?

Jeff Bercovici has a few ideas: A place on CNN's roster? A Glenn Beck-style second act as honcho of his own online TV enterprise? A deal with a portal giant like Yahoo?

Perhaps we'll know more by tonight: Olbermann's booked for a chat with David Letterman on the Late Show.

Meanwhile, Olbermann's successor in Current's 8 p.m. weeknight slot, CNN alumnus Eliot Spitzer, didn't exactly take the Nielsen Company by storm with the maiden voyage of his new show, Viewpoint, which, to be fair, didn't exactly have much time for promotion before its abrupt premiere on a Friday evening.

To put it kindly, with 47,000 total viewers and 10,000 in the advertiser-preferred 25-54 demographic, Spitzer, who was canned by CNN partly because he wasn't bringing in a big enough audience, has nowhere to go but up.

A spokerperson for Current said he was not presently available for interviews.

In other news...

Jim Dolan v. Mort Zuckerman. [Forbes/Mixed Media]

It's official: Philly's daily newspapers have been sold. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

Paul Smalera: "Reports of the media’s death are premature, at best. But more important, it’s unfair for any old-media advocate to say that the revenue model for media (or any industry moving toward digital) is broken." [Reuters]

Behind the scenes of the just-launched Occupy.com. [Mother Jones]

Al Jazeera is expanding globally. [Reuters]

In the magazine industry: Fewer news titles; fewer closures. [Crain's]

Sassy alumna Kim France has launched a new blog venture. [W.W.D.]