The board of embattled publishing empire News Corp declared "full confidence" Wednesday in chairman Rupert Murdoch, a day after British lawmakers branded him unfit to lead a major global company.
A board statement said the confidence was based on Murdoch's "vision and leadership in building News Corporation," his performance as chairman and chief executive, "and his demonstrated resolve to address the mistakes" identified in a British parliamentary report on a phone-hacking scandal.
The response came a day after the culture committee of the British parliament issued a report that charged the company with misleading lawmakers and said Murdoch and his son James should take responsibility.
The long-awaited report was the result of hearings that started shortly after the News of the World, Britain's biggest selling and most controversial newspaper, shut last July amid public outrage over the hacking of phones of public figures.
"Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company," concluded the 121-page report.
It said the firm exhibited willful blindness, and that Rupert and James Murdoch "should ultimately be prepared to take responsibility."
Separately in Washington, US Senator Jay Rockefeller disclosed a letter he sent to the British panel asking if it had determined if any US laws had been broken by News Corp.
"More generally, I would like to know whether... any other News Corporation business used hacking, bribing or other similar tactics while operating in the United States," the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee said in his letter to judge Brian Leveson, who heads the British panel.
The British parliamentary report added to pressure on Murdoch from a phone hacking scandal which erupted and led to the closure of News of the World in July 2011 after revelations that the tabloid had accessed the voice mails of a murdered schoolgirl.
But Murdoch holds the reins of the New York-based global media group through a stock structure which gives him and family members most of the voting shares in News Corp., making it virtually impossible for shareholders to oust him.
News Corp. said the comments were "unjustified and highly partisan" and pointed out that the committee itself was split on whether to include the remarks.
But the case has prompted calls for action against Murdoch in the United States.
An activist group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sent a letter asking the Federal Communications Commission to revoke the 27 Fox broadcast licenses News Corp. holds in the United States, saying broadcast frequencies may be used only by people of good "character," who will serve "the public interest."
CREW executive director Melanie Sloan said the House of Commons report "makes clear that both Rupert and James Murdoch were complicit in News Corp.'s illegal activities. If the Murdochs don't meet the British standards of character test, it is hard to see how they can meet the American standard."