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Murdoch, Rupert 1931–

Rupert Murdoch
1931

Chairman and chief executive officer, News Corporation

Nationality: American.

Born: March 11, 1931, in Melbourne, Australia.

Education: Worcester College, MA, 1953.

Family: Son of Keith Arthur Lay (journalist) and Elisabeth Joy Greene (philanthropist); married Patricia Brooker (airline stewardess; divorced); children: one; married Anna Torv (journalist and novelist; divorced); children: three; married Wendi Deng (secretary); children: two.

Career: Daily Express (London), 19531954, subeditor; Adelaide News, 1954, publisher; Southern TV (Adelaide, Channel 9), 1959, owner; Sydney Daily and Sunday Mirror, 1960, publisher; Australian, 1964, founder and publisher; London News of the World, 1969, publisher; London Sun, 1969, publisher; News International, 19691987, chairman of the board; 19691981, chief executive officer; News Corporation, 1979, CEO; Times Newspapers Holdings, 19821990, chairman of the board; News Corporation, 1991, chairman of the board; Twentieth Century Fox, 1992, CEO and chairman of the board; Fox Inc., 1992, CEO and chairman of the board; News International, 19941995, chairman of the board; Times Newspapers Holdings, 1994, chairman of the board; Fox Entertainment Group, 1995, CEO; British Sky Broadcasting, 1999, chairman of the board; Shine Ltd., 2001, CEO and chairman of the board.

Awards: Humanitarian of the Year, United Jewish Appeal, 1997.

Address: News Corporation, 3rd Floor, 1211 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10036-8701; http://www.newscorp.com.

Keith Rupert Murdoch was small, pudgy, short tempered, and blunt spoken; he was also charismatic, charming even to his enemies, and patient when criticized. A very complex man whom even his wives had trouble understanding, Murdoch created a media empire that was like his personalitycontradictory, large, and dominating. He liked to describe

himself as colorless and boring, but numerous accounts by those who worked with him attested to his having been a stirring leader who could galvanize his employees to achievements that had seemed impossible.

THE EDUCATION OF RUPERT MURDOCH

Murdoch's father was Sir Keith Murdoch, who had been knighted for services to the crown and was a national hero in Australia. He was also one of the 20th century's most celebrated journalists: he was credited with revealing the truth about Britain's invasion of Gallipoli during World War I and with changing the British government's policy as a result, with troops being withdrawn from Turkey. Murdoch grew up in a spacious home near Melbourne and spent much of his time on a sheep ranch owned by his family.

The elder Murdoch was already severely ill with heart trouble when he sent his son to college in Oxford, England. The younger Murdoch developed an unsavory reputation for partying rather than studying, but his father's friend Lord Beaver-brook, publisher of the Daily Express (London), gave him work at the newspaper, where he quickly picked up Beaverbrook's flair for sensational headlines and snappy, short-sentenced prose. At the time Murdoch was a socialist who celebrated Lenin as a great man, and he proved to be such an adept debater in favor of his views that in 1950 he was elected president of Oxford's Labour Club.

Meanwhile, as the elder Murdoch remained seriously ill, a few of his subordinates conspired to relieve him of his ownership of the Melbourne Herald and other newspapers. After his father's death in 1952 the young Murdoch found that Australia's enormous death taxes had taken away most of the rest of his father's holdings. When he returned to Australia in 1954 Murdoch immediately began striving to build the circulation of a small Adelaide newspaper. Other publishers regarded him as a lazy, foolish young man and treated him with contempteven into the 2000s Murdoch was chronically underestimated by his opposition. Yet he devoted himself to the publishing business with a passion and learned the details of every aspect of newspaper production. With sensational news stories and a punchy prose style, Murdoch's small holdings made money; he took risks by buying small newspapers that were losing money and then turning them around.

FOUNDATIONS OF EMPIRE

In July 1959 Murdoch bought his first television station, Channel 9 in Adelaide, calling it Southern TV. Throughout his life he would be on the lookout for new communications technologies, constantly trying to integrate them into his existing businesses. In 1960 he bought the Daily Mirror (Sydney) and its accompanying Sunday edition for $4 million; the publications quickly became notorious for bizarre and sensational headlines and stories about sex and mayhem. Perhaps in an effort to change his image as a purveyor of prurience, Murdoch established the Australian, a national newspaper that began publication in the capital of Canberra on July 14, 1964. The Australian was a serious publication featuring in-depth discussion of social issues and government policy and won the admiration of journalists.

In April 1967 Murdoch married for the second time, to Anna Torv, a reporter for the Daily Mirror. She would be his counterweight for over 30 years, pulling him back to his family when his work threatened to consume him. By 1968 Murdoch's Australian holdings were worth $50 million. He harbored resentment of the English upper class from his days in Oxford; they had made him feel like an outsider, as if they regarded Australians as inferior beings, and he wanted to strike back at them. In late 1968 he learned that London's Sunday publication News of the World was available. After a battle with other potential buyers, in January 1969 he bought 40 percent of the newspaper's shares, soon increasing the amount to 49 percent and instating himself as the newspaper's chief executive officer. In June 1969 he was elected chairman of the board for the newspaper.

In October 1969 he purchased the Sun (London), which had a circulation of 600,000 but was losing $5 million per year. When he announced that he would turn the Sun from a broadsheet to a tabloid, some of the newspaper's printers said the switch could not be made because the newspaper's printing machine could not be adjusted; Murdoch climbed on top of one of the huge machines, opened a cabinet, and pulled out a bar that when placed properly would convert the machine to a printer of tabloids. This was an important lesson for observers of Murdoch: he knew everything about running his businesses, down to the nitty-gritty of everyday production. On November 17, 1969, the first tabloid version of the Sun was published. On November 17, 1970, the first photograph of a half-naked woman was published; she and others would become known as Page 3 Girls. The Sun 's circulation rose to four million, and for the first of seemingly innumerable times, England's Press Council censured Murdoch for appealing to low-class readerswhich were the very readers Murdoch wanted to appeal to. Further, the Sun tweaked the upper classes with tales of their infidelities, crimes, and foolishness.

In December 1969 Murdoch and his family were tending to business in Australia, leaving the use of their Rolls Royce in England to an editor's family. Alick McKay, the wife of the editor, took the automobile on a shopping trip and was kidnapped and murdered by men who thought she was Anna Murdoch. From that time onward Murdoch downplayed his dynamic personality and tried to keep himself and his family out of the news, not wanting outsiders to know their whereabouts.

INTO AMERICA

Murdoch wanted to expand his holdings into the United States; he chose to begin with two small, struggling newspapers, buying the San Antonio Express, the San Antonio News, and their united Sunday paper for $18 million in 1973. He revamped the News with his sex and mayhem formula while leaving the Express relatively untouched. He then established a national American newspaper, the National Star (later just the Star ), a tabloid that competed with the National Enquirer in the field of sensational, bizarre, and scarcely credible stories. Murdoch's formula came to include large photographs, big headlines, and brief stories. In 1974 Murdoch began spending most of his time in the United States; his wife had detested the snobbery in England and was happy to split her time between a 12-room duplex in New York City and a country farmhouse in rural New York.

On November 19, 1976, Murdoch bought the New York Post from Dorothy Schiff for about $50 million. He edited the Post personally for awhile, then hired the Time magazine editor Edwin Bolwell to do the job. The Post became a tabloid that revealed Murdoch's changing political sentiments. Previously known as Red Murdoch, he was shifting his views away from socialism; the Post began attacking liberal politicians who opposed Murdoch's expansion into the United States, especially the Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, whose infidelities were covered in detail. On January 7, 1977, Murdoch bought the New York Magazine Company, publisher of New York, Village Voice, and New West, in a hostile takeover. New York would thrive; Village Voice would return to its gritty antiestablishment roots after years as a tepid social-life paper; and New West would fold after losing money, although it was regarded as a great magazine, comparable to New York.

In 1978 newspaper unions went on strike at New York's Times, Daily News, and Post production offices. Murdoch told the unions that if they returned to publishing the Post, he would later accept whatever terms they reached with the other two newspapers; thus the Post returned to full publication months before its rivals did. Meanwhile, Murdoch's newspapers in London were making large profits, and in February 1981 he used these profits to purchase the Times (London), creating a stir because of his existing possession of the lowbrow Sun and his status as a foreignerhe was seen as unfit to own the venerable English publication. In November 1983 he bought the Chicago Sun-Times for $90 million, creating similar worries in Chicago because the Sun-Times was considered a highbrow newspaper. Murdoch worked his usual magic, sensationalizing the Sun-Times and thereby expanding its circulation. "I don't run anything for respectability," Murdoch was quoted as saying in William Shawcross's biography, Murdoch (1992). By 1984 Murdoch's holding company News Corporation owned 80 newspapers and magazines.

FOX

In early 1985 Murdoch bought half of Fox for $250 million, and on May 6, 1985, Twentieth Century Fox bought Metromedia's seven television stations for $2 billion. By then Murdoch's assets were worth $4.7 billion, with annual revenues of $2.6 billionbut he was borrowing heavily to expand into the American television market. In the United States, only an American citizen could hold a majority interest in a television station, which meant the Metromedia stations could not be owned by Murdoch; Australia had a similar rule. Murdoch obtained an exception in Australia, and on September 4, 1985, he became a U.S. citizen. The rest of his family remained Australian citizens.

In 1985 Murdoch instituted sweeping production changes in all of his London newspapers. He wanted to change from double keystroking (wherein an editor creates a page, and then a printer resets it) to single keystroking (wherein a computer is used, and the typesetting is done entirely by the editor), which would cut labor costs. British labor unions had long enjoyed special privileges at London newspapers. For instance, whenever a newspaper introduced new technology, the union printers would be paid as if there were more printers than there actually were; at the Times, it was possible for 10 workers to be paid the wages of 17. In secret, Murdoch built huge printing plants in Wapping and Glasgow, and on January 25, 1986, he began printing all his London newspapers in these plants. A long, violent strike ensued, featuring a pair of riots in Wapping. Murdoch offered a series of compromises that were rejected; the union workers eventually lost their jobs and most of their benefits, with the strike ending in January 1987. By then Murdoch owned about 30 percent of British newspapers. That same month Murdoch bought his father's old newspaper, the Melbourne Herald. On March 1, 1987, Murdoch launched the Fox television network. American rules forbade a motion picture studio from owning a television network, so the Fox network at first ran only 14 hours of national programmingone hour less than the legal definition for a network. It took persistent and skillful politicking by Murdoch to have the rules changed so that Fox could expand its programming.

TROUBLED TIMES

In 1988 Senator Kennedy exacted revenge against Murdoch by slipping a small amendment into an appropriations bill that forced Murdoch to sell the Post because he also owned a television station in New York. Companies were not supposed to own a television station and a newspaper in the same city, but the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had granted Murdoch an exemption; Kennedy's amendment ended that exemption. In England, Murdoch had tried to launch a satellite-television service in 1983 but had failed, losing $20 million. In February 1989 he started Sky Television, a satellite service with four channels. He initially lost money on the venture as a result of providing satellite boxes for free; the investment would later pay off when he was able to offer over four hundred channels to subscribers.

In 1990 Murdoch's News Corporation was worth $19 billion, but it was $8.1 billion in debt, and most of the debt was due. Murdoch had to restructure his debts, in part by issuing new stock that diluted the percentage of shares he owned, weakening his control over the businesses. Exercising his persuasive powers to their fullest, he convinced American banks to give him extensions to 1993 to pay what he owed them. Without these extensions he might have lost News Corporation altogether.

In 1991 the Murdoch family moved to Los Angeles. Anna had felt like an outsider in New York; in the Los Angeles home she was the happiest that she had been since leaving Australia. Fueled by profits from his London holdings, Murdoch quickly bought back control of his businesses. In February 1992 his personal wealth was estimated at $2.7 billion. In 1993 he took one of the most breathtaking risks of his career, buying Asia's Star Television, a satellite service that covered southern Asia from the Middle East to Japan. With the laws of many different countries involved, Murdoch would spend much of the next decade negotiating deals with various governments. By 2000 Star Television would have over 300 million subscribers. Also in 1993 the New York Post went bankrupt; the FCC granted Murdoch a special exemption to save the newspaper, arguing that either Murdoch would be allowed to own the newspaper or it would die. Thus, he regained what Kennedy had taken from him.

MORE RISKS, MORE GROWTH

In 1994 Murdoch dropped the BBC from Star Television amid protests that he was bowing to complaints from China's dictators, who said the BBC portrayed them badly. Murdoch's response was that he personally disliked the BBC, which was true; he regarded the BBC as an elitist organization that helped prevent the United Kingdom's society from becoming fully free and democratic. The accusation that he was unethically catering to China's dictators would return with more justification when in 1998 his book-publishing firm HarperCollins broke its agreement to publish the memoirs of the last governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, supposedly because Patten was overly critical of Chinese communists.

In 1994 Fox bought the rights to broadcast National Football League games for $1.58 billion over five years, meaning that the network would lose $100 million per year. Murdoch averred, however, that his local stations would make up the $100 million in advertising revenues. In 1997 he bought Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers for $350 million, the International Family Entertainment religious cable network for $1.9 billion, Heritage Media for $1.41 billion, and 40 percent of Rainbow Media Sports Holdings for $850 million. The last of these deals gave Murdoch part ownership of the National Basketball Association's New York Knicks and the National Hockey League's New York Rangers. Murdoch planned to use his sports holdings for overseas broadcasts, noting that the Dodgers in particular had a globally recognizable brand name. On September 21, 1998, Murdoch's British Sky Broadcasting bought British soccer's Manchester United, the most popular sports team on the planet, for $1.5 billion.

In June 1999 Murdoch divorced Anna, worrying many colleagues who saw her as an essential, stabilizing influence on his life. Only three weeks later, in an unpublicized ceremony, he married Wendi Deng, a Chinese employee of Star Television. Those in attendance did not know they were attending anything other than a party on Murdoch's boat until the ceremony began.

In 2000 News Corporation was worth $38 billion, with annual sales of $14 billion. It bought Chris-Craft's 10 television stations for $5.3 billion in stock. By 2002 Murdoch owned more than 750 businesses in more than 50 countries. In December 2003 Murdoch made one of his most daring purchases when his News Corporation paid $6.8 billion for the controlling interest in DIRECTV, an American satellite-television service. This purchase would enable Murdoch to broaden the reach of his existing television services as well as to profit from the dissemination of other television services that would be required to pay him to carry their shows. For 2003 News Corporation netted $1.1 billion and grossed $17.5 billion.

News Corporation was first incorporated in Australia; in 2004 Murdoch reincorporated his company, shifting it from Australia to the United States. By that year Murdoch's 35 American television stations reached 40 percent of America's population. Murdoch himself had come to be regarded by many as an extreme right-wing ideologue; he seemed to have changed his thinking about socialism, which he saw as a poison embodied in government regulatory agencies. He never escaped from bitter criticism that he published vulgar newspapers that demeaned society by emphasizing sex and mayhem at the expense of reasoned discussion. It was Murdoch's view that he was an entertainer, not an informer, and that he merely sold entertainment to his readers, most of whom were lower-class workers and middle-class women. He was unapologetic about his influence on public discourse. Amid complaints that Fox slanted the news in favor of government policies that he advocated, he insisted that he saw no such slant. To his credit, his response to criticism was exclusively verbal; he did not sue or otherwise try to silence his critics, even when they accused him of being a liar or a criminal. He allowed them the same freedom to express their opinions that he wanted for his own publications.

Although regarded as an evil genius by some, Murdoch did not seem to have regarded himself as any sort of genius, but rather as a hardworking taker of risks. In that respect he was extraordinary, continually bouncing back from failures to find new ventures to conquer. He loved to build businesses, and he regularly worked 16-hours days into his 70s, asserting that he would never quit, noting that his mother was in her 90s. He seemed to take the greatest pleasure in turning around failed businesses, which he did without initially overanalyzing or worrying about profit and losses. Instead, he focused on seizing opportunities, confident in his ability to build and motivate goal-oriented teams and in his own extraordinary persuasive powers, with which he convinced employees and bankers of the vitality and potential for success of his enterprises.

See also entries on British Sky Broadcasting Group plc, Fox Entertainment Group, Inc., News Corporation Limited, and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation in International Directory of Company Histories.

sources for further information

Fallows, James, "The Age of Murdoch," Atlantic Monthly, September 2003, pp. 8196.

Grover, Ronald, and Tom Lowry, "Rupert's World: With DirecTV, Murdoch Finally Has a Global Satellite Empire; Get Ready for a Fierce Media War," BusinessWeek, January 19, 2004, pp. 5259.

Shah, Diane K., "Will Rupert Buy L.A.?" Los Angeles Magazine, December 1997, pp. 108114.

Shawcross, William, Murdoch, New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster, 1992.

Kirk H. Beetz

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Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch

Starting out as a newspaper publisher in his native Australia, Rupert Murdoch (born 1931) became a powerful media entrepreneur with wide holdings in England and the United States. His style of journalism evoked criticism from serious readers but served the entertainment needs of a broad audience.

Born March 11, 1931, in Melbourne, Australia, (Keith) Rupert Murdoch was the son of a distinguished journalist. His father, Sir Keith Murdoch, was a celebrated World War I reporter who later became chief executive of the leading Melbourne Herald newspaper group. From the beginning in 1955 with the tiny Adelaide News inherited from his father (who died in 1952), Murdoch created an international communications empire which eventually published over 80 papers and magazines on three continents.

In the process of expanding his $1.4 billion a year News Corp. Ltd., Murdoch acquired critics as fast as properties for his sensationalistic brand of journalism. Appealing to the prurient interests of readers, Murdoch was compared to such yellow journalism tycoons of the past as William Randolph Hearst. Yet his business philosophy of offering readers what they were willing to buy most closely resembled the outlook of entertainer P. T. Barnum.

After studying at Oxford, Murdoch entered journalism as a reporter for the Birmingham Gazette and served an apprenticeship on the London Daily Express, where he learned the secrets of building circulation from the press baron Lord Beaverbrook. Returning to Australia to begin his publishing career, Murdoch revived the Adelaide News. In 1956 bought and built up the Perth Sunday Times. In 1960 he purchased the dying Sydney Daily and Sunday Paper, which he turned into the largest selling newspaper in Australia by employing aggressive promotion and a racy tabloid style. In 1964 he started The Australian, a national paper aimed at a more serious audience.

In early 1969 Murdoch debuted as a London publisher when he gained control of the Sunday paper News of the World, the largest-circulation English-language paper in the world. Later in 1969 he bought cheaply a tired liberal paper, the Sun, which he radically transformed into a sensationalistic tabloid featuring daily displays of a topless girl on page three. The Sun became the most profitable paper in his empire. In 1983, with circulation around four million, it earned $50 million, over 40 percent of News Corp.'s annual profits. In 1981 Murdoch bought the failing but prestigious London Times.

Murdoch expanded into the American market in 1973 when he acquired the San Antonio (Texas) Express and News. In early 1974 he started the weekly tabloid the National Star (later renamed Star) to compete with the popular Enquirer. Initially a weak imitation of the Sun, it adopted a format based on celebrity gossip, health tips, and self-help advice which boosted its circulation to almost four million.

In his quest for a big-city audience, Murdoch surprised the publishing world in 1976 when he bought the New York Post, a highly regarded liberal paper. By transforming its image he nearly doubled the circulation. In 1977 he took control from Clay Felker of the New York Magazine Corp., which included the trendy New York magazine, New West, and the radical weekly the Village Voice. Focusing on the struggling paper in competitive urban markets, Murdoch extended his holdings by buying the ailing Boston Herald in 1982 and the modestly-profitable Chicago Sun-Times in 1983.

From his first involvement in publishing, Murdoch applied a recognizable formula to most of his papers. His trademark operations included rigid cost controls, circulation gimmicks, flashy headlines, and a steady emphasis on sex, crime, and scandal stories. Reminiscent of the personalized style of the fictional Citizen Kane, Murdoch's uninhibited sensationalism was scorned as vulgar and irresponsible by his peers. One critic charged that what Murdoch did "just isn't journalism—it's a different art form."

On the other hand, Murdoch was seen as an astute and effective popular journalist who catered to the interests of his audiences, a view he espoused. Ignoring his critics, he regarded most papers as too elitist in their approach and too bland in appearance. He preferred a bright and entertaining product which would attract the largest body of readers. While he didn't think papers should be in the business of preaching to the public, he used his news columns to promote personal causes. With regard to a Labor government in Australia, he stated, "I elected them. And incidentally I'm not too happy with them. I may remove them."

Murdoch's newspaper style, though, did not fare as well in the United States as in Britain. The New York Post was a steady financial drain despite its increased circulation. Murdoch's formula did not attract advertisers. Collectively, led by the more subdued Star, Murdoch's American papers did not show a profit until 1983.

In 1983 Murdoch purchased a controlling interest in Satellite Television, a London company supplying entertainment programming to cable-television operators in Europe. His plan for beaming programs from satellites directly to homes equipped with small receivers did not progress, and his attempt to gain control of Warner Communications and its extensive film library did not succeed. However, in 1985 he did purchase the film company Twentieth Century Fox. A year later he bought six (Metromedia) television stations and sought to create a fourth major network called Fox Television. Since foreign nationals were not permitted by the United States to own a broadcast station, Murdoch became a naturalized citizen of the U.S. in 1985, in order to maintain his control of Fox Television. In 1987 he bought the U.S. publishing house Harper and Row.

Other than publishing, Murdoch's business interests included two television stations in Australia, half ownership in the country's largest private airlines, book publishing, records, films (he co-produced Gallipoli), ranching, gas and oil exploration, and a share in the British wire service Reuters News Corp. Ltd. which earned almost $70 million in 1983. His holdings rivaled such U.S. giants as Time, Inc. and the Times Mirror (now Time Warner) Company. In 1988, in connection with his television network, he bought Triangle publications—with holdings that included TV Guide, the leading television program listing publication— from Walter Annenberg for $3 billion. In 1995 he underwrote the Weekly Standard, a political magazine that generally supports Republican politics. In 1997, he tried to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, which many see as another dig at his long time media competitor and rival Ted Turner, owner of the Atlanta Braves and numerous cable and broadcast networks such as CNN. Murdoch's ambitions caused him to seek out new ventures in cable broadcasting such as a Fox News service, and an all-sport network.

Murdoch's personal wealth was estimated at over $340 million. Seen as ruthless in his business dealings, Murdoch was known as being shy in his personal life. Living primarily in New York, he guarded his privacy with his wife Anna (a former Sydney Daily Mirror reporter) and their four children, one by a previous marriage.

Further Reading

Good Times, Bad Times (1984) by Harold Evans a former London Times editor; Arrogant Aussie: The Rupert Murdoch Story (1985; Citizen Murdoch (1987). □

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Murdoch, Rupert

Rupert Murdoch

Born: March 11, 1931
Melbourne, Australia

Australian publisher

Starting out as a newspaper publisher in his native Australia, Rupert Murdoch became a powerful media entrepreneur (someone who begins a business venture) with many publications in England and the United States. His style of journalism brought criticism from serious readers but served the entertainment needs of a wide audience.

Early life

Born March 11, 1931, in Melbourne, Australia, Keith Rupert Murdoch was the second son of a distinguished journalist. He and his two sisters and a brother were raised on a farm. His mother surrounded her children with classics in literature as well as music, with their living room hosting a grand piano. Rupert learned to ride horses at the age of five. His childhood has been described as ideal. His father, Sir Keith Murdoch, was a celebrated World War I (191418) reporter, who later became chief executive of the leading Melbourne Herald newspaper group.

After studying at Oxford University in England, Murdoch entered journalism as a reporter for the Birmingham Gazette and served an apprenticeship at the London Daily Express, where he learned the secrets of building circulation (average number of copies of a publication sold over a given time period). Returning to Australia to begin his publishing career, Murdoch revived the Adelaide News that he had inherited after his father's death in 1952.

Publishing world

In the process of expanding his $1.4 billion-a-year News Corporation Limited, Murdoch often heard from critics who disliked his entertaining style of journalism. He applied a recognizable formula to most of his papers. His trademark operations included rigid cost controls, circulation gimmicks (tricks to gain sales), flashy headlines, and a steady emphasis on sex, crime, and scandal stories. Murdoch's brand of publishing was scorned as rude and irresponsible by his fellow publishers.

In early 1969 Murdoch became a London publisher when he gained control of the Sunday paper News of the World, the largest English-language circulation paper in the world. Later in 1969 he bought a worn-down liberal paper, the Sun, which he transformed into an eye-catching tabloid featuring daily displays of a topless girl on page three. The Sun became the most profitable paper in his empire. In 1981 Murdoch bought the failing but prestigious London Times.

Murdoch expanded into the American market in 1973 when he acquired the San Antonio Express and News. In early 1974 he started the weekly tabloid the National Star (later renamed Star ) to compete with the popular Enquirer. It adopted a format based on celebrity gossip, health tips, and self-help advice that boosted its circulation to almost four million.

In his quest for a big-city audience, Murdoch surprised the publishing world in 1976 when he bought the New York Post, a highly regarded liberal (open-minded) paper. By changing its image he nearly doubled the circulation. Murdoch's newspaper style, though, did not fare as well in the United States as in Britain. The New York Post was a steady financial drain despite its increased circulation. Murdoch's formula did not attract advertisers. His American papers did not show a profit until 1983.

Murdoch was seen as an effective popular journalist who gave his readers what they wanted. Ignoring his critics, he regarded most papers as too snobbish in their approach and too boring in appearance. He preferred a bright and entertaining product that would attract the largest body of readers.

Branching out

In 1983 Murdoch purchased a controlling interest (a majority of the company's stock that allowed him to make decisions for the company) in Satellite Television, a London company. His plan for beaming programs from satellites directly to homes equipped with small receivers did not progress, and his attempt to gain control of Warner Communications and its large film library did not succeed. In 1985, however, he did purchase the film company Twentieth Century Fox. A year later he bought six (Metromedia) television stations and sought to create a fourth major network called Fox Television. The United States does not permit foreign nationals to own broadcast stations. In order to maintain his control of Fox Television, Murdoch became a citizen of the United States in 1985. In 1987 he bought the U.S. publishing house Harper and Row.

Other than publishing, Murdoch's business interests include two television stations in Australia, half ownership in the country's largest private airlines, book publishing, records, ranching, gas and oil exploration, and a share in the British wire service Reuters News Corporation Limited, which earned almost $70 million in 1983.

Murdoch's personal wealth has been esti mated at over $340 million. Seen as fierce in his business dealings, Murdoch is known to be shy in his personal life. Living primarily in New York, he guarded his privacy with his wife Anna (a former Sydney Daily Mirror reporter) and their four children, one by a previous marriage. Murdoch divorced Anna in 1999 and married Wendi Deng, a former television executive more than thirty years his junior. In April 2000 he was diagnosed and treated for a "low grade" form of cancer. His radiation treatments did not slow his work pace. In 2001 Wendi had a baby girl, making Murdoch a father for the fifth time.

For More Information

Chenoweth, Neil. Rupert Murdoch: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Media Wizard. New York: Crown Business, 2002.

Evans, Harold. Good Times, Bad Times. New York: Atheneum, 1984.

Kearns, Burt. Tabloid Baby. Nashville: Celebrity Books, 1999.

Kiernan, Thomas. Citizen Murdoch. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1986.

Leapman, Michael. Arrogant Aussie: The Rupert Murdoch Story. Secaucus, NJ: L. Stewart, 1985.

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Murdoch, Rupert

Rupert Murdoch (Keith Rupert Murdoch), 1931–, Australian-American publishing magnate. Combining sensationalist journalism (often reflective of his generally hawkish, strongly conservative political views) with aggressive promotion, Murdoch established a worldwide communications empire, the News Corporation, that, among other assets, includes powerful holdings in Australia and New Zealand; the prestigious Times of London and other widely read British papers; and, in the United States, HarperCollins book publishers, the New York Post,TV Guide, and the Wall Street Journal. He also acquired 20th Century Fox film studios and home video and built the Fox Television network, as well as television stations in Australia. His other communications ventures include direct-broadcast satellite television and cable networks, and he has purchased broadcast rights to major sports events in Britain, the United States, Australia, and India. He became a U.S. citizen in 1985. In 2011 his British papers were hit by a scandal concerning the use of phone hacking and police bribery in news gathering, which led to the closure of one paper, prominent arrests (including that of a former aide to Prime Minister Cameron) and resignations (including that of his son James in 2012), and British and U.S. investigations. A British parliamentary investigation into the scandal criticized (2012) Murdoch personally and called him unfit to head a major international company. In 2013 most of the television and film businesses were separated from the News Corporation, becoming 21st Century Fox.

See biography by N. Chenoweth (2002); M. Wolff, The Man Who Owns the News (2008).

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Murdoch, (Keith) Rupert

Murdoch, (Keith) Rupert (1931– ) US media tycoon, b. Australia. In 1952, Murdoch assumed control of his late father's newspaper, The Adelaide News. He transferred his successful recipe of sensationalist journalism to the British newspapers News of the World (1969) and The Sun (1970). In 1973, he moved into the US newspaper market, acquiring the Boston Herald and The Star. In Britain, he bought The Times and the Sunday Times. In 1985, Murdoch became a US citizen. He began to diversify into other media industries, acquiring 50% of 20th Century Fox. In 1989, Murdoch launched the first satellite broadcasting network in the UK, Sky Television. He also monopolized the development of digital cable television.

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Murdoch, Rupert

Murdoch, Rupert

The News Corporation
(1931-)

Overview

Rupert Murdoch has been credited with single-handedly creating the concept of a modern media empire. With his chain of newspapers, a television network, holdings in book and magazine publishing, part-ownership of 20th Century-Fox, and expansion into satellite television services around the world, Murdoch has mastery over an enormous array of information providers. Murdoch created his News Corporation out of a few small newspapers inherited from his father, and in the late 1990s his 30 percent share of the company was estimated at $3.9 billion, making him one of the world's richest private citizens. Politically conservative, Murdoch has been accused of wielding his power unfairly. He has been compared to the lead character in the famous 1930s Orson Welles film Citizen Kane, which, in turn, was loosely based on the career of William Randolph Hearst, who is considered the founder of tabloid-style journalism.

Personal Life

Murdoch was born Keith Rupert Murdoch in 1931 in Melbourne, Australia. He was named for his father, Sir Keith Murdoch, an Australian newspaper magnate who had been a well-known war reporter during the World War I. His mother, Elisabeth, would later be honored with the title Dame of the British Empire for her welfare activism. Murdoch and his three sisters were raised in a suburb of Melbourne in a prosperous home, and also spent time on the family's sheep ranch in the country. At the age of ten he was sent away to boarding school, and as a young adult traveled to England to earn his college degree.

At Worcester College of Oxford University, Murdoch studied economics and political science, and earned an M.A. in 1953, the year after his father died. He married and had a daughter, Prudence, but by 1967 the marriage had ended and he wed Sydney newspaper reporter Anna Torv, with whom he would have three children. The two separated in 1998. Two of Murdoch's three adult children work for him; his second son is involved in the record industry. For recreation the mogul swims, plays tennis, and skis, but he also travels incessantly to keep tabs on his global empire. Though he is considered one of the world's wealthiest private citizens, Murdoch shuns a lavish lifestyle and is known to prefer taxicabs to limousines. Although he travels extensively, he did not purchase a Gulfstream jet for his private use until the late 1980s. When not traveling, he lives in New York City and Beverly Hills, and is a generous contributor to the Republican Party.

Career Details

Murdoch's first job in journalism came while still in England when he was hired as a reporter for a paper in Birmingham. He then spent time at London's famed Daily Express, where he served under the tutelage of its equally newsworthy owner, Lord Beaverbrook, a friend of Sir Keith Murdoch. After his father's death, Murdoch had inherited his holdings, including the Adelaide News. But when he returned to Australia in 1954, he realized that his father's empire was far less than the family had assumed, and inheritance taxes had taken a large share. Murdoch set out to revive the Adelaide News, and as its owner and publisher implemented circulation-boosting tactics he had learned at the Daily Express. He is credited with bringing London's Fleet Street style to Australia, and was known in the early days for writing some of the attention-getting headlines himself.

In 1956 Murdoch purchased a Perth paper, and four years later entered Australia's largest market when he acquired two lackluster Sydney papers, the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror. Critics of Murdoch, mostly his more conservative competitors in the field of journalism, expected him to fail. Instead, circulation of both the daily and Sunday paper rose dramatically after being revamped with his News Corporation's particularly racy style. His critics remained, but it became evident that crime and sex stories did indeed sell papers, as did headlines like "Queen Eats a Rat." In 1964, Murdoch lured some of the country's top editors and reporters to launch The Australian, a serious paper with an esteemed reputation.

Murdoch set his sights on England as his next conquest. In 1969, he bought the weekly News of the World, the best-selling newspaper in the English language, and later that year acquired another Fleet Street staple, the daily Sun. In the case of the Sun, Murdoch more than doubled circulation in the first year by featuring a photograph of a topless woman every day on page three. Elsewhere in its pages, a melodramatic style and excerpts from tell-all books made it a must-read. The Sun soon became the best-selling paper in Murdoch's empire, and over the next decade, the politically conservative Murdoch would use his editorial power to make this and his other papers platforms of support for Tory Party (conservative) politics in England.

Murdoch entered the American market in 1973 when he purchased the San Antonio Express in Texas. The next year, he launched the supermarket tabloid Star to compete with the National Enquirer. His most famous acquisition, however, came in November of 1976 when he bought the New York Post, a bastion of liberal politics and the city's oldest newspaper, founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton. It shocked journalism circles, and Murdoch introduced into the paper many of the same tabloid-esque tactics that had been so successful overseas; perhaps most infamously, the Post once used the headline "Headless Body in Topless Bar" in a 1983 crime story. He also tried to introduce the concept of the page three pin-up to American readers, but his wife Anna was adamantly against it; she feared their three children, who were living in New York City by then, would see the paper on their way to school. For a time, Murdoch was somewhat of an outcast in New York, and the children were even refused admission when the Murdochs attempted to enroll them in one elite private school.

Chronology: Rupert Murdoch

1931: Born.

1953: Earned Oxford degree.

1960: Bought major Australian newspaper.

1967: Married Anna Torv.

1969: Became publisher of two major English tabloids.

1974: Became publisher of London Times.

1976: Bought New York Post.

1985: Became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

1986: Launched Fox Television network.

1997: Bought Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team.

Murdoch's empire gained further notoriety in 1977 when he bought the New York Magazine Corporation, publisher of the Village Voice and the well-regarded weekly New York from a onetime friend in a somewhat underhanded manner. A court case ensued, and New York magazine writers went on strike in protest of the possibility of having Murdoch as their boss; 20 of them later quit when that occurred. By now, Murdoch was a millionaire and his News Corporation controlled an empire that brought in enough revenue to enable him to become owner of one of Britain's most venerable papers, London Times and its weekly edition, the Sunday Times, perhaps the most prestigious name in British print journalism. Although he shifted its focus to a more conservative slant, he allowed editors there to run stories unfavorable to the conservative government of prime minister Margaret Thatcher. On one occasion, the owner of the Harrod's department store, Mohamed al Fayed, objected to a story the Times had run about one of his homes, the former Paris abode of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. As former editor Andrew Neil recounted in his book about the Murdoch empire, Full Disclosure, Al Fayed threatened to cancel his advertising with the paper unless a retraction was printed. Instead, Neil banned all Harrod's advertisements, the paper's biggest account, with the blessing of Murdoch, who rejected the idea that Al Fayed would assume that, "We can be bought for 3 million pounds."

Murdoch was interested in electronic media, and his 1983 investment into a European satellite television market represented his first foray. His goal, however, was to launch a fourth network in the United States, and to meet one of the legal requirements to do so, he became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1985. After purchasing a large share of the movie and television behemoth 20th Century-Fox and several local affiliate television stations, Murdoch launched the Fox Network in 1986, the first competitor to the broadcast giants ABC, NBC, and CBS since the 1950s. A decade later, Fox TV was a serious presence in broadcast television, with a string of highlyrated shows that catered to young viewers. A major coup was its successful bid to the broadcast rights for National Football League games, including the ratings plum of Superbowl Sunday.

In 1988 Murdoch cut a $3 billion deal with media mogul Walter Annenberg to acquire several publications, including TV Guide, a periodical with one of the largest number of readers in the United States. By this point the News Corporation had already acquired several other dailies in major markets, including the Boston Herald and Chicago Sun-Times. In the late 1980s Murdoch also added the title of book publisher to his list when he became chair of HarperCollins publishing empire. Acquisitions of satellite broadcast services around the globe continued, and a decade later his empire included Star TV in Asia and ZeeTV, which broadcasts to the Indian subcontinent. In 1995 Murdoch financed the launch of the conservative American magazine, The Weekly Standard.

Social and Economic Impact

Murdoch's wealth has enabled him to exert influence in politics around the world. He once commented about a liberal administration in power in Australia: "I elected them. And incidentally I'm not too happy with them. I may remove them." Over the years Murdoch has faced much criticism for his competitive business practices and political conservatism, and has been accused of "dumbing down" of print and broadcast journalism in general, as competitors have adopted some hallmarks of the tabloid style in order to compete with his empire. America writer Terry Golway described Murdoch as a "media baron who is destined one day to employ a third of the world's journalists, actors, authors, editors and scriptwriters." Some have asserted that such control in the hands of one private citizen is unfair, and in the end stifles the spirit of the printed word.

During the 1980s, Murdoch was an enthusiastic supporter of British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and her Tory government, an 11-year regime that dismantled much of the country's socialist policies. One aspect of this was to weaken Britain's powerful trade unions. The Murdoch chain became embroiled in this union squabble in a contentious 1986-87 strike at the Times' printing presses. A decade later the high-tech printing plant was non-union, which saved Murdoch's company greatly in labor costs.

In 1997, with the scheduled handover of the British colony of Hong Kong to the Chinese government, Murdoch faced criticism for giving in to the Communist leaders in Beijing. The British Broadcasting Corporation newscasts, which reflected unfavorably on the Chinese government, were taken off Murdoch's Star TV satellite network. The following year, the News Corporation entered a deal with the People's Daily, China's national, party-controlled newspaper, to create an information-technology partnership that would include on-line services. Murdoch, believed the long-term effect was obvious. "Advances in the technology of telecommunications have proved an unambiguous threat to totalitarian regimes everywhere," a BBC report quoted him as saying.

After the 1997 hand over of Hong Kong, Murdoch's HarperCollins was set to publish former Hong Kong colonial governor Christopher Patten's memoirs, but the manuscript was dropped in a well-publicized fracas. Critics of the News Corporation asserted that Murdoch nixed the book when it proved too critical of mainland China in Patten's accounts of his dealings with Communist leaders over the years. In the end, it reflected unfavorably on China for resisting Patten in his goal to gain some assurance of democracy in the post-British Hong Kong. The book was later published by a competitor, and the incident was considered by some to have damaged HarperCollins's credibility in the book publishing world.

One of Murdoch's biggest foes is fellow media mogul Ted Turner, owner of the Cable News Network and several other massive media properties. The two have a longstanding rivalry that includes legal volleys. Murdoch successfully triumphed over Turner in 1997 when he purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers professional baseball team. Murdoch has also bought a partial interest in the New York Knicks, the New York Rangers, and Madison Square Garden, and in Australia owns an entire rugby league.

Sources of Information

Contact at: The News Corporation
2 Holt St.
Surry Hills, Sydney, New South Wales 2010 Australia

Bibliography

Alterman, Eric. "Prizing Murdoch: Full-Court Press." Nation, 23 June 1997.

America, 18 January 1997.

Bondi, Victor, ed. American Decades. Detroit: Gale Research, 1996.

Byers, Paula K. and Suzanne M. Bourgoin, eds. Encyclopedia of World Biographies. Detroit: Gale Research, 1998.

British Broadcasting Corporation. "BBC News." London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1998. Available from http://www.news.bbc.co.uk.

Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. Detroit: Gale Research, 1988.

Current Biography Yearbook. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1977.

James, Steve. "Murdoch's Dodgers Start Era of Rupert Ball in L.A." Detroit News, 8 April 1998.

Neil, Andrew. "Murdoch and Me." Vanity Fair, December 1996.

"Rupert Murdoch Picks Sides Between Money and Honesty." Herald 3 March 1998.

Shah, Diane K. "Will Rupert Buy L.A.?" Los Angeles Magazine, December 1997.

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Murdoch, Rupert

Murdoch, Rupert

(1931-)
The News Corporation

Overview

Rupert Murdoch has been credited with single-handedly creating the concept of a modern media empire. With his chain of newspapers, a television network, holdings in book and magazine publishing, part-ownership of 20th Century-Fox, and expansion into satellite television services around the world, Murdoch has mastery over an enormous array of information providers. He created The News Corporation from a few small newspapers inherited from his father, and by the late-1990s his 30 percent share of the company was estimated at $3.9 billion, making him one of the world's richest private citizens. Politically conservative, Murdoch has been accused of wielding his power unfairly. He has been compared to the lead character in the 1930s Orson Welles film Citizen Kane, which, in turn, was loosely based on the career of William Randolph Hearst, considered by many as the founder of tabloid-style journalism.

Personal Life

Rupert Murdoch was born Keith Rupert Murdoch in 1931 in Melbourne, Australia. He was named for his father, Sir Keith Murdoch, an Australian newspaper magnate who had been a well–known war reporter during World War I. His mother, Elisabeth, was later honored with the title Dame of the British Empire for her welfare activism. Murdoch and his three sisters were raised in a suburb of Melbourne in a prosperous home and also spent time on the family's sheep ranch in the country. When he was 10 years old, Murdoch was enrolled in boarding school, and as a young adult traveled to England to earn his college degree.

At Worcester College of Oxford University, Murdoch studied economics and political science and earned an Masters of Arts in 1953, the year after his father died. He married and had a daughter, Prudence, but by 1967 the marriage was over, and he wed Anna Torv, a Sydney newspaper reporter with whom he would have three children. The couple separated in 1998 and divorced the following year. Murdoch then married Wendi Deng, a former TV executive, in 1999. In May 2001 the two announced that they were expecting their first child.

Two of Murdoch's three adult children work for him; his second son is involved in the record industry. In 1999 Murdoch commented that the arrival of additional children would not change the succession plans for his media empire. He had described his elder son Lachlan "first among equals" among his children.

For recreation, Murdoch swims, plays tennis, and skis, and also travels frequently to keep tabs on his global empire. When not traveling, he lives in New York City and Beverly Hills and is a generous contributor to the Republican Party. Though considered one of the world's wealthiest private citizens, Murdoch shuns a lavish lifestyle in certain respects. He is known to prefer taxicabs to limousines and did not purchase a Gulfstream jet for his private use until the late 1980s. Among his luxuries, however, is a 155–foot yacht, the Morning Glory.

Career Details

Murdoch took his first job in journalism while still in England, when he was hired as a reporter for a newspaper in Birmingham. He then spent time at London's famed Daily Express, where he served under the tutelage of its equally newsworthy owner, Lord Beaverbrook, a friend of Sir Keith Murdoch. After his father's death, Murdoch inherited his holdings, including the Adelaide News. But when he returned to Australia in 1954, he realized that his father's empire was far smaller than the family had realized, and inheritance taxes had taken a large share. Murdoch set out to revive the Adelaide News as its owner and publisher, and he implemented circulation-boosting tactics that he had learned at the Daily Express. He is credited with bringing London's "Fleet Street" style to Australia and was known in these early days for writing some of the paper's colorful headlines himself.

In 1956 Murdoch purchased an Australian paper in Perth, and four years later he entered Australia's largest market when he acquired two lackluster Sydney papers, the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror. Critics of Murdoch, mostly his more conservative competitors in the field of journalism, expected him to fail. Instead, circulation rose dramatically, due in part to his operation's particularly racy style. He continued to receive criticism, but it became evident that crime and sex stories did indeed sell papers, as did such attention–grabbing headlines as "Queen Eats a Rat." In 1964 Murdoch lured some of the country's top editors and reporters away from competitors' papers to launch The Australian, a serious paper with an esteemed reputation.

Murdoch set his sights on England as his next conquest. In 1969, he bought the weekly News of the World, the best-selling newspaper in the English language, and later that year he acquired another Fleet Street staple, the Daily Sun. Murdoch more than doubled Sun's circulation in the first year by featuring a photograph of a topless woman every day on page three. Such enticing tactics aside, the paper's characteristic melodramatic tone and excerpts from tell-all books made it the best-selling paper in Murdoch's empire. Over the next decade, the politically conservative Murdoch would use his editorial power to make this and his other papers platforms of support for the Tory Party (conservative) politics in England.

Murdoch entered the U.S. market in 1973 with the purchase of the San Antonio Express in Texas. The next year he launched the supermarket tabloid Star as a competitor for the National Enquirer. His most famous acquisition, however, occurred in November 1976, when he bought the New York Post, a bastion of liberal politics and the city's oldest newspaper, founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton. This purchase rocked the journalism circles.

Murdoch introduced into the New York Post many of the same tabloid-esque tactics that had been so successful overseas. Perhaps most famously, the paper once featured the headline "Headless Body in Topless Bar" for a 1983 crime story. Murdoch also wanted to bring his page-three pin-up concept to American readers, but his wife Anna was adamantly against it. She feared that their three children, who were living in New York City by then, would see the paper on their way to school. For a time, Murdoch himself was somewhat of an outcast in New York, and the children were even refused admission to a certain elite private school.

Murdoch's empire gained further notoriety in 1977, when he bought in a somewhat underhanded manner the New York Magazine Corporation, publisher of the Village Voice and the well-regarded weekly New York, from a onetime friend. A court case ensued, and New York magazine writers went on strike to protest the possibility of having Murdoch as their boss; 20 of them later quit when the deal was settled.

By this time, Murdoch's fortune and clout were enough to enable him to become owner of one of Britain's most venerable papers, the London Times, along with its weekly edition, the Sunday Times. Although Murdoch shifted the paper's focus to a more conservative slant, he allowed editors there to run stories unfavorable to the conservative government of prime minister Margaret Thatcher. On one occasion, the owner of Harrod's department store, Mohamed al Fayed, objected to a story in the Times about one of his homes, the former Paris abode of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. As former editor Andrew Neil recounted in his book about the Murdoch empire, Full Disclosure, al Fayed threatened to cancel his advertising with the paper unless a retraction was printed. Instead, Neil rejected all further advertising from Harrod's, the paper's biggest account. Murdoch gave his blessing to the decision, citing his displeasure that al Fayed would assume that he could "be bought for 3 million pounds [Sterling]."

During the 1980s, Murdoch began focusing more energy on electronic media, and in 1983 he invested in the European satellite television market. His primary goal, however, was to launch a fourth network in the United States, and to meet one of the legal requirements to do so, he became a naturalized citizen in 1985. After purchasing a large share of the movie and television behemoth 20th Century-Fox and several local affiliate television stations, Murdoch launched the Fox Network in 1986, the first competitor to the broadcast giants ABC, NBC, and CBS since the 1950s. A decade later, Fox TV was a serious presence in broadcast television, with a string of highly–rated shows that catered to young viewers. A major coup was its successful bid to the broadcast rights for National Football League (NFL) games, including the ratings plum of the Superbowl. Making its mark on the motion picture industry as well, the company's Fox Entertainment branch boasted six of the top 10 grossing films ever made through 1999.

In 1988 Murdoch cut a $3 billion deal with media mogul Walter Annenberg to purchase several publications, including TV Guide, the best-selling magazine in the United States. By this point, The News Corporation had already acquired several other dailies in the nation's major markets, including the Boston Herald and Chicago Sun-Times. In the late 1980s Murdoch expanded into book publishing by becoming chairman of the HarperCollins empire. Meanwhile, acquisitions of satellite broadcast services around the globe continued, and a decade later Murdoch added Asia–based Star TV and India's ZeeTV to his holdings. In 1995 he financed the launch of the conservative American magazine The Weekly Standard.

Murdoch flexed more media muscle in Europe in the 1990s when he acquired broadcast rights for Champions League soccer games, among the largest sports events on the continent. In 1998 he paid $1 billion for Manchester United, the most popular soccer team in Britain. Fans and former players protested by threatening to withdraw support for the team.

Chronology: Rupert Murdoch

1931: Born.

1953: Earned degree from Oxford University.

1960: Bought major Australian newspaper.

1969: Became publisher of two major English tabloids.

1974: Purchased London Times.

1976: Bought New York Post.

1985: Became a naturalized citizen of the U.S.

1986: Launched Fox Television network.

1997: Bought Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team; Fox Entertainment released Titanic.

1998: Bought Manchester United, most popular soccer team in Britain.

1999: Announced acquisition of Healtheon/WebMD.

By the end of the 1990s, Murdoch controlled a global empire that sold media content worth more than $12 billion annually. Still, he had missed some big opportunities. Earlier in the 1990s, for example, he decided against investing in America Online. Since then, however, he has concentrated on capturing his share of cyberspace business. In Australia, News Corporation launched online career and auction sites, and in the United Kingdom it established a free Internet service provider, CurrantBun. In 1999 Murdoch paid $1 billion to acquire an American health-oriented website, Healtheon/WebMD. At the same time, the media tycoon divested himself of many of his print publications. When he sold TV Guide to Gemstar International Group in 1999, the deal left The Weekly Standard as his sole remaining magazine.

Social and Economic Impact

Rubert Murdoch's wealth has enabled him to exert influence in politics around the world. An outspoken libertarian, Murdoch has never been shy about flexing his media muscle to promote his friends and wound his foes. He once commented about a liberal administration in power in Australia, "I elected them. And incidentally I'm not too happy with them. I may remove them."

Over the years, Murdoch has faced much criticism for his competitive business practices and political conservatism and has been accused of "dumbing down" print and broadcast journalism in general. Even so, some competitors have adopted his tabloid style in order to compete with his empire.

America writer Terry Golway described Murdoch as a "media baron who is destined one day to employ a third of the world's journalists, actors, authors, editors, and scriptwriters." Some have asserted that such control in the hands of one private citizen is unfair and in the end stifles the spirit of the printed word.

During the 1980s Murdoch was an enthusiastic supporter of British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and her Tory government. One aspect of Thatcher's regime was to dismantle many of the country's socialist policies—including the weakening of Britain's powerful trade unions. The Murdoch chain became embroiled in a union squabble when a strike from 1986 to 1987 hit the printing presses at the Times. A decade later the hightech printing plant was non-union, saving Murdoch's company huge labor costs.

In 1997, with the scheduled return of the British colony of Hong Kong to the Chinese government, Murdoch—hitherto a staunch anticommunist—faced criticism for giving in to the Communist leaders in Beijing. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) newscasts, which reflected unfavorably on the Chinese government, were taken off Murdoch's Star TV satellite network. The following year, the News Corporation entered a deal with the People's Daily, China's national, party-controlled newspaper, to create an information-technology partnership that would include online services. Murdoch defended the deal as a victory for freedom. "Advances in the technology of telecommunications have proved an unambiguous threat to totalitarian regimes everywhere," a BBC report quoted him as saying.

Yet freedom of speech seemed less important to Murdoch when HarperCollins canceled its deal to publish the memoir of former Hong Kong colonial governor Christopher Patten. Critics charged that Murdoch canceled the book because Patten's accounts of his dealings with Communist leaders over the years were too critical of mainland China. The book was later published by a competitor, and the incident was considered by some to have damaged HarperCollins's credibility in the book publishing world.

In addition to his media holdings, Murdoch has also invested heavily in the sports industry. He triumphed over long-term business rival Ted Turner in 1997 when he purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers professional baseball team. Murdoch has also bought a partial interest in the New York Knicks, the New York Rangers, and Madison Square Garden. In Australia he owns an entire rugby league and in England a professional soccer team. Still energetically pursuing business at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Murdoch is poised to exploit new technologies that will expand his empire ever further.

By the latter part of 2000, there was speculation that Murdoch was hoping to use sports offerings to tempt millions of cable TV viewers to switch to satellite dishes. The News Corporation had its sights on a controlling stake in Hughes Electronics' DirecTV, the largest satellite television provider in the United States. Murdoch had already been successful in similar schemes in parts of Europe, Asia, and Latin America. But the challenge in the United States was slightly different because most customers there were already tied into the cable infrastructure. However, the number of U. S. satellite-equipped homes was expected to increase from 14.5 million in 2001 to 25 million by 2005, and DirecTV already controlled a 66-percent share of the market in 2001.

In 2001 Murdoch suffered a setback when his bid to merge Sky Global, the holding company for his digital business, with Hughes Electronics, parent company of DirecTV, failed. Such a merger would have produced a $70 billion global satellite network that could pose stiff competition to cable TV in the United States.

By 2001 Murdoch's $30 billion media empire circled the globe and included vast sections of U.S. interests, including the Fox Network, 23 TV stations, the cable networks Fox News Channel, Fox Sports Net and FX, the 20th Century Fox film studio, the New York Post, and book publisher HarperCollins. If completed, the DirecTV acquisition would make Murdoch the most powerful media mogul in the world.

Sources of Information

Contact at: The News Corporation
1211 Avenue of the Americas, 3rd Fl.
New York, NY 10036
Business Phone: (212)852-7000
URL: http://www.newscorp.com

Bibliography

"BBC News." British Broadcasting Corporation, 1998. Available at http://www.news.bbc.co.uk.

Burt, Tim, and James Harding. "Murdoch Strips Assets Out of Sky Global." The Financial Times, 20 June 2001.

Colford, Paul D. Knight&dashRidder/Tribune Business News, 22 June 2001.

Crainer, Stuart, and Des Dearlove. Business the Rupert Murdoch Way: 10 Secrets of the World's Greatest Deal–Maker. AMACOM, 1999.

"Duopolies are Good." Worth, October 2000.

"From Murdoch, a Health Bulletin." Business Week, 20 December 1999.

Harding, James, Nikki Tait, and Richard Waters. "Murdoch's Birthday Cake Without Icing." The Financial Times, 10 March 2001.

James, Steve. "Murdoch's Dodgers Start Era of Rupert Ball in L.A." Detroit News, 8 April 1998.

Kuczynski, Alex. "TV Guide Sold for $9.2 Billion in Stock Deal." New York Times, 5 October 1999.

Lefton, Terry, and Berhard Warner. "He's Got Global Game." The Industry Standard, 19 February 2001.

Lewis, Mark. "Murdoch Needs DirecTV to Realize His Vision." Forbes, 17 August 2001.

Lippman, John, and Ken Brown. "After Bid Fails, What's Next for Murdoch?" The Wall Street Journal, 30 October 2001, C1.

"Media Magnate Rupert Murdoch to Be Father for Fifth Time." AsiaPulse News, 11 May 2001.

Neil, Andrew. Full Disclosure.

Roberts, Johnnie L. "The Man Behind Rupert's Roll." Newsweek, 12 July 1999.

"Rupert Does the Cyberhustle." Business Week, 12 July 1999.

"Rupert Murdoch." Time Digital Archive, 2000.

"Rupert Murdoch Picks Sides between Money and Honesty." Herald, 3 March 1998.

"Rupert's Misses." The Economist, 3 July 1999.

Shawcross, William. "Rupert Murdoch." Time, 25 October 1999.

"Still Counting." The Financial Times, 9 March 2001.

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