LOS ANGELES – Media mogul Rupert Murdoch survived calls for his removal as News Corp. chairman in the wake of a phone-hacking scandal at his British tabloid that critics said revealed lax oversight.

More than 100 protesters gathered outside the 20th Century Fox studio lot where News Corp. held its annual shareholders meeting. Inside, with sons Lachlan and James seated before him in the front row, Murdoch parried allegations that he had poor oversight of the company.

After the meeting, News Corp. said a majority of shareholders supported his re-election to the company’s board, as well as the re-election of his sons and the rest of the directors. The company failed to provide vote totals as it has in the past, saying it would do so early next week.

The vote, however, is expected to be a referendum on the 80-year-old Murdoch’s stewardship of the $33 billion-a-year conglomerate whose holdings include the Fox News Channel, the 20th Century Fox movie studio and newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal.

News Corp. has faced increasing pressure to make dramatic changes to its management structure. Some investors have lobbied to reduce the influence of Murdoch and his family since the cellphone-eavesdropping scandal in Britain exploded into front-page headlines in July.

The scandal caused the company to shutter the tabloid News of the World and drop its $12 billion bid for full control of British Sky Broadcasting.

Murdoch’s critics knew they faced an uphill battle to unseat Murdoch and others on the board. He and his family control about 40 percent of the voting shares. A close ally holds another additional 7 percent. That meant nearly every other shareholder would have had to vote against Murdoch to topple him.

Some investors had urged News Corp.’s board to adopt changes to inoculate the company from future scandals. One proposal called for the naming of a new, independent chairman to replace Murdoch at the helm of the media conglomerate.

“The pervasive and value-destroying scandal … requires more independent leadership,” said Julie Tanner of Christian Brothers Investment Services Inc., which proposed splitting Murdoch’s dual roles of chairman and chief executive.

Murdoch sought to reassure the 100 or so investors gathered Friday that he and other directors take the scandal seriously, and he vowed repeatedly to rectify the problems.

“If we hold others to account, then we must hold ourselves to account,” Murdoch said in his opening remarks.

Tom Watson, who has been leading Parliament’s probe of the alleged improprieties, flew to Los Angeles to make a new allegation about covert surveillance by company employees.

Watson asked Murdoch if he was aware that a former prison inmate was hired by News Corp.’s British newspaper unit and hacked into a former army intelligence officer’s computer.

He later said that evidence of the 2005 computer hacking is with London’s Metropolitan Police. He said it could lead to the discovery of further victims of computer hacking.

Murdoch said he wasn’t aware of the allegation, and board director Viet Dinh said the company would look into it.

Several shareholders took issue with a chart Murdoch put up showing the stock’s upbeat performance compared with most media peers since the beginning of the year and since the beginning of July. They said its performance over 10 years or more lagged its peers. Murdoch said the chart was to address criticism that the company had been hurt by the hacking scandal.