But as part of its duties, Ofcom has to ensure that all entities licensed to broadcast within Britain are "fit and proper" to hold the licenses. What this phrase means precisely is subject to debate; in a post to its website in October 2011, international law firm Ashurst writes that "Ofcom has not published substantive formal guidance on the precise interpretation of this 'fit and proper' test, and legal precedent on the application of the 'fit and proper' test in the broadcasting context is scarce." But Ashurst adds that Ofcom has noted that it would consider "any relevant misconduct of those who manage and control the licence" in determining whether the licensee is "fit and proper."
Ofcom indicated that it was considering any misconduct that occurred under Murdoch's leadership of the family's newspaper business as a factor in determining whether he and BSkyB were "fit and proper." With Ofcom deciding in January to ramp up its investigation into Murdoch according to a Financial Times report, BSkyB saw the specter of having its broadcasting license in Britain withdrawn – a potentially devastating event for the broadcaster and its chairman.
With the ongoing investigations and the decreasing popularity of the Murdochs among BSkyB shareholders, the younger Murdoch ran the risk of a revolt among the board of directors, particularly as it is set to change soon.