Rupert Murdoch's Successor?

James Murdoch is poised to assume an expanded role in the global media empire built by his father, Keith Rupert Murdoch, 76, in a move certain to fan the perennial speculation about succession that hovers over arguably the world's most powerful media mogul.

In separate interviews Murdoch confidants describe as imminent the announcement of the rise of the 34-year-old Murdoch, the youngest of his four adult children and his only heir toiling within the family-controlled News Corp. A News Corp. spokeswoman declined to comment, and a spokesman for James Murdoch did not respond to phone and e-mail overtures seeking comment.

The ascension of the younger Murdoch will follow his resignation as CEO of BSkyB, the Murdoch-controlled U.K.-based satellite broadcaster he has run since 2003, said the sources. Speaking on condition that they not be identified preemptively addressing the move, these Murdoch associates say that the company could disclose the news in London as early as Saturday.

James Murdoch, according to the people privy to the developments, will be named chairman and CEO of a broad geographical chunk of News Corp. that combines the company's Asian and European operations. He will oversee businesses that include, among other things, Asian satellite broadcaster Star TV, the company's European television operations and Sky Italia, yet another national satellite broadcaster.

He will also gain responsibility for Murdoch's British newspapers, which are grouped under the company's News International unit. The CEO of News International, Les Hinton, is reportedly poised to succeed Richard Zannino as CEO of Dow Jones, following Zannino's announcement earlier today of his resignation. Murdoch next week will officially acquire control of Dow Jones and its flagship Wall Street Journal, after shareholders approve his $5.2 billion offer.

According to one well-placed Murdoch official, the young Murdoch is now primed to assume a "very visible" senior corporate post at New York-based News Corp. that will "expand his experience and presence." Confirming the pending move into a corporate job, another Murdoch confidant said, "that's a fair description."