Though many of us have been riveted by the Leveson Inquiry here in London, including star performances from Hugh Grant and the comedian Steve Coogan, and heart-rending testimony from those innocent relatives of murder victims and celebrities who have had their lives destroyed or seen people driven to suicide, the expose of the methods and practices of the tabloid press shouldn't distract us.
Phone and computer hacking, surveillance and intimidation were rife at the tabloid end of Fleet Street: but the market leader in the practice, the one that set the modal monopoly that competitors were impelled to imitated, was Newscorp's tabloid titles - with the now closed News of the World the heart of darkness.
My fear about the Leveson inquiry, as I've said quite publicly on BBC and Al Jazeera, is that it would distract focus from the key issue of ownership. It is rather like a Watergate hearing into the connection between plumbing and burglary. These abuses of power only happen because power - mainly economic and political power - has accrued in a monopoly fashion that organisations can be corrupted this way.
So beyond the Leveson inquiry, the big international news in terms of Newscorp and its international hegemony is the resignation of James Murdoch from the board of the NGN, the subsidiary of Newscorp which owned the biggest selling English language newspaper, The News of the World, and still runs the best selling daily The Sun, and the prestigious though now bland titles, The Times and Sunday Times
James Murdoch quits the boards of Sun and Times
Companies House filings show James Murdoch has stepped down from the boards of both News Group Newspapers Limited, publisher of The Sun, and Times Newspapers Limited, which operates The Times and Sunday Times.
NGN used to operate the News of the World and remains embroiled in legal action over phone-hacking.
The departures come as James Murdoch also faces calls to quit as chairman of BSkyB at next week's annual general meeting. His decision means no member of the Murdoch family now sits on the boards of the flagship UK papers.Rupert Murdoch used to be a director of NGN and TNL but stepped down after his son took over as NI executive chairman in 2007. James Murdoch has also quit at least one other subsidiary, News International Holdings.
Tom Mockridge, former boss of Sky Italia who replaced Rebekah Brooks as NI chief executive in July, has taken over from him at NGN and TNL.
NI insisted that James, who was promoted to News Corp deputy chief operating officer in New York in April, was not walking away from the UK newspaper arm. A spokesman said: "James Murdoch doesn't step back from NI. He remains chairman."
He also continues as a director of key holding company NI Group Limited and of Times Newspapers Holdings, the editorial board set up in 1981 to ensure the independence of the paper when Rupert Murdoch bought it.
However, those close to Murdoch say he now has a more hands-off role.
Claire Enders, founder of Enders Analysis, said: "Because it is inescapable that there will be some kind of censure from the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, it is inevitable that people will say maybe you've got too much on your plate, it makes sense to step back from some of the roles." But Enders said Murdoch still faces intense pressure as the police investigate hacking at the News of the World.
"He can step down from all these positions but he won't stop any of the other issues
As was detailed in my penultimate diary, there are suggestions from police sources that undeleted emails found by the Weeting Investigation prove that James knew about the extent of phone hacking at NOTW, and has deceived parliament or - more injuriously - been involved in an extensive coverup.
We don't know yet if this is related to that, or just a tactical retreat, but from past experience of the resignations of Rebekah Brooks and Les Hinton are anything to go by, this is another sign we're at the beginning of the end of the Murdoch media dynasty.
So much more discuss about the evidence this week, so please use the comments section to discuss anything related to the Fall of the House of Murdoch.
Meanwhile please support the crowd funded book, Bad Press: Fall of the House of Murdoch - illustrated by fellow Kossack Eric Lewis. Video and book outline coming soon.
James Murdoch trying surgical resignations to save himself--resigning from uk newspaper boards, but boards still report to him. Murdochian.
9:30 AM PT: NI is trying to spin this as 'nothing to see' but even Reuters sees through that
Ivor Gaber, professor of political journalism at London's City University, said the move could indicate that Murdoch was still worried over his own exposure to the phone hacking scandal or that News Corp was preparing to sell its UK newspaper holdings.
12:38 PM PT: Worth reiterating the Murdochian/Machiavellian dimension of this, as pointed out by Virginislandguy in the comments
Let me present a different take on James' resignations and your excellent diary about their major sale of stock.
First, that the Murdochs recognize family control of NI and succession of Elisabeth to CEO is untenable. I think they are engineering a spinoff of those media properties Liz wants to manage and some newspapers sentimental to Rupert (yeah, I wrote sentimental and Rupert in the same sentence).
The rump NI would no longer have the Murdoch Discount but would retain the civil hacking liabilities. The hedgies buying NI stock may be betting that this plus the breakup value will be very profitable.