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LONDON (AP) - Tom Mockridge, the chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers who was parachuted in to steady an organization swamped in scandal, is leaving the company at the end of the year.

Mockridge was appointed CEO of News International in July 2011, following the resignation of Rebekah Brooks in the wake of the phone hacking scandal at the defunct Sunday tabloid, News of the World.

He is leaving News International to pursue outside opportunities, parent company News Corp. said in a statement Sunday. Mockridge joined News Corp. in Australia in 1991, and headed the Sky Italia broadcasting operation in Italy from 2003 to 2011.

News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch says that Mockridge's "decision to step down is absolutely and entirely his own."

The conglomerate announced plans this summer to split into two public companies, one for its newspaper and book publishing business and the other for its fast-growing movie and TV operations. The Wall Street Journal said Saturday that its current managing editor Robert Thomson is being named CEO of the new, unnamed publishing company.

Murdoch will be chairman of both companies.

In an interview last week with BBC radio, Mockridge said U.K. newspapers needed more effective regulation but argued against any legislative involvement by the government- the course recommended by Lord Justice Brian Leveson, who led a yearlong inquiry into the British press.

Mockridge said News Corp. would not consider closing The Sun, Britain's largest circulation newspaper, if members of its staff were convicted of crimes.

"One of the striking things about the troubles of the last 18 months is how quickly support, evidenced by people's purchase decisions, has come back to our newspaper titles and to other newspaper titles," he said.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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