|Keith Rupert Murdoch|
Rupert Murdoch – World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2007
|Born||11 March 1931
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Occupation||Chairman and CEO, News Corporation|
|Net worth||▼$4 Billion|
|Spouse(s)||Patricia Booker (m. 1956–1967)
Anna Torv (m. 1967–1999)
Wendi Deng (m. 1999–present)
|Children||Prudence Murdoch (b.1958)
Elisabeth Murdoch (b.1968)
Lachlan Murdoch (b.1971)
James Murdoch (b.1972)
Grace Murdoch (b.2001)
Chloe Murdoch (b.2003)
|Parents||Keith Murdoch (1885–1952)
Elisabeth Joy Greene (b.1909)
|Awards||Companion of the Order of Australia (1984)|
Keith Rupert Murdoch, AC (pronounced /ˈruːpɚt ˈmɝːdɒk/; born 11 March 1931) is an American media mogul. He is the founder, a major shareholder, chairman and managing director of News Corporation (News Corp).
Beginning with one newspaper in Adelaide, Murdoch acquired and started other publications in his native Australia before expanding News Corp into the United Kingdom, United States and Asian media markets. Although it was in Australia in the late 1950s that he first dabbled in television, he later sold these assets, and News Corp's Australian current media interests (still mainly in print) are restricted by cross-media ownership rules. Murdoch's first permanent foray into TV was in the UK, where he created Sky Television in 1989. In the 2000s he became a leading investor in satellite television, the film industry and the Internet.
Keith Rupert Murdoch was born in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia in 1931. At the time, his father, Sir Keith, was a regional newspaper magnate based out of Melbourne and as a result, the family was quite wealthy.
Rupert was groomed by his father from an early age, and went off to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University in England where he supported the Labour Party. When Rupert was 22, his father died, prompting his return from Oxford to take charge of the family business; becoming managing director of News Limited in 1953.
He began to direct his attention to acquisition and expansion. He bought the Sunday Times in Perth, Western Australia and, using the tabloid techniques of his father's mentor Lord Northcliffe, made it a success.
Over the next few years, Murdoch established himself in Australia as a dynamic business operator, expanding his holdings by acquiring suburban and provincial newspapers in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and the Northern Territory, including the Sydney afternoon tabloid, The Daily Mirror, as well as a small Sydney-based recording company, Festival Records. His acquisition of the Daily Mirror allowed him to challenge two powerful rivals in Australia's biggest city and to outmaneuver his afternoon rival in a lengthy circulation war.
His first foray outside Australia involved the purchase of a controlling interest in the New Zealand daily The Dominion. In January 1964, while touring New Zealand with friends in a rented Morris Minor after sailing across the Tasman, Murdoch read of a takeover bid for the sleepy Wellington paper by the British-based Canadian newspaper magnate, Lord Thomson of Fleet. On the spur of the moment, he launched a counterbid. A four-way battle for control ensued in which the 32-year-old Murdoch outwitted his rivals. He took an active interest in the paper, at least until distracted by bigger undertakings, and remained the dominant shareholder in New Zealand's Independent Newspapers Limited – the nationwide media group that ultimately developed from his takeover of The Dominion – until 2003.
Later in 1964, Murdoch launched The Australian, Australia's first national daily newspaper, which was based first in Canberra and later in Sydney. The Australian, a broadsheet, was intended to give Murdoch new respectability as a 'quality' newspaper publisher, as well as greater political influence. The paper had a rocky start that was marked by publishing difficulties and a rapid succession of editors who found it impossible to cope with Murdoch's persistent interference. Touted as a serious journal that was devoted to covering the affairs of the nation, the paper actually veered between tabloid sensationalism and intellectual mediocrity until Murdoch found a compliant editor who was able to tolerate his frequently unpredictable whims.
In 1972, Murdoch acquired the Sydney morning tabloid The Daily Telegraph from Australian media mogul Sir Frank Packer, who later admitted regretting selling it to him. In that year's election, Murdoch threw his growing power behind the Australian Labor Party under the leadership of Gough Whitlam and duly saw it elected. As the Whitlam government began to lose public support following its re-election in 1974, Murdoch turned against Whitlam and supported the Governor-General's dismissal of the Prime Minister.
During this period, Murdoch turned his attention to Britain. His business success in Australia and his fastidious policy of making prompt periodic repayments of his borrowings had placed him in good standing with the Commonwealth Bank, which provided him with finance for his biggest venture yet, the takeover of the family company that owned The News of the World, the Sunday newspaper with the biggest circulation in Britain.
When the Mirror group decided to get rid of its mid-market broadsheet daily newspaper The Sun in 1969, Murdoch acquired it and turned it into a tabloid format; by 2006 it was selling three million copies per day.
Murdoch acquired The Times (and The Sunday Times), the paper Lord Northcliffe had once owned, in 1981. The distinction of owning The Times came to him through his careful cultivation of its owner, who had grown tired of losing money on it.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, Murdoch's publications were generally supportive of the UK's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. At the end of the Thatcher/Major era, Murdoch switched his support to the Labour Party and the party's leader Tony Blair. The closeness of his relationship with Blair and their secret meetings to discuss national policies was to become a political issue in Britain. Though this has recently started to change, with The Sun publicly renouncing the ruling Labour government and seemingly lending its support to David Cameron's Conservative Party, Prime Minister Gordon Brown's official spokesman said in November 2009 that Brown and Murdoch "were in regular communication" and that "there is nothing unusual in the prime minister talking to Rupert Murdoch".
In 1986, Murdoch introduced electronic production processes to his newspapers in Australia, Britain and the United States. The greater degree of automation led to significant reductions in the number of employees involved in the printing process. In England, the move roused the anger of the print unions, resulting in a long and often violent dispute that played out in Wapping, one of London's docklands areas, where Murdoch had installed the very latest electronic newspaper publishing facility in an old warehouse. The unions had been led to assume that Murdoch intended to launch a new London evening newspaper from those premises, but he had kept secret his intention to relocate all the News titles there. The bitter dispute at Fortress Wapping started with the dismissal of 6000 employees who had gone on strike and resulted in street battles, demonstrations and a great deal of bad publicity for Murdoch. Many suspected that the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher had colluded in the Wapping affair as a way of damaging the British trade union movement. Once the Wapping battle had ended, union opposition in Australia followed suit.
Murdoch's British-based satellite network Sky Television incurred massive losses in its early years of operation. As with many of his other business interests, Sky was heavily subsidized by the profits generated by his other holdings, but eventually he was able to convince rival satellite operator British Satellite Broadcasting to accept a merger on his terms in 1990. The merged company, BSkyB, has dominated the British pay-TV market ever since.
In response to print media's decline and the increasing influence of online journalism during the 2000s  Murdoch proclaimed his support of the micropayments model for obtaining revenue from online news, although this has been criticised by some.
News Corporation has subsidiaries in the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, the Channel Islands and the Virgin Islands. From 1986, News Corporation's annual tax bill averaged around seven per cent of its profits.
Murdoch made his first acquisition in the United States in 1973, when he purchased the San Antonio Express-News. Soon afterwards, he founded Star, a supermarket tabloid, and in 1976, he purchased the New York Post. On 4 September 1985, Murdoch became a naturalized citizen in order to satisfy the legal requirement that only US citizens were permitted to own American television stations. In 1987, in Australia he bought The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd, the company that his father had once managed. By 1991, his Australian-based News Corp. had worked up huge debts (much from Sky TV in the UK), forcing Murdoch to sell many of the American magazine interests he had acquired in the mid-1980s.
In 1995, Murdoch's Fox Network became the object of scrutiny from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), when it was alleged that News Ltd.'s Australian base made Murdoch's ownership of Fox illegal. However, the FCC ruled in Murdoch's favor, stating that his ownership of Fox was in the best interests of the public. In the same year, Murdoch announced a deal with MCI Communications to develop a major news website and magazine, The Weekly Standard. In the same year, News Corp. launched the Foxtel pay television network in Australia in partnership with Telstra.
In 1996, Murdoch decided to enter the cable news market with the Fox News Channel, a 24-hour cable news station. Following its launch, the heavily-funded Fox News consistently eroded CNN's market share and eventually proclaimed itself as "the most-watched cable news channel." Ratings studies released in the fourth quarter of 2004 showed that the network was responsible for nine of the top ten programs in the "Cable News" category at that time.
In 1999, Murdoch significantly expanded his music holdings in Australia by acquiring the controlling share in a leading Australian independent label, Michael Gudinski's Mushroom Records; he merged that with Festival Records, and the result was Festival Mushroom Records (FMR). Both Festival and FMR were managed by Murdoch's son James Murdoch for several years.
In 1993, Murdoch acquired Star TV, a Hong Kong company founded by Richard Li (son of Li Ka-shing) for $1 billion (Souchou, 2000:28), and subsequently set up offices for it throughout Asia. It is one of the biggest satellite TV networks in Asia. However, the deal did not work out as Murdoch had planned, because the Chinese government placed restrictions on it that prevented it from reaching most of China. It was around this time that Murdoch met his third wife Wendi Deng.
In 2004, Murdoch announced that he was moving News Corp.'s headquarters from Adelaide, Australia to the United States. Choosing a US domicile was designed to ensure that American fund managers could purchase shares in the company, since many were deciding not to buy shares in non-US companies. Some analysts believed that News Corp's Australian domicile was leading to the company being undervalued compared with its peers.
On 20 July 2005, News Corp. bought Intermix Media Inc., which held MySpace.com and other popular social networking-themed websites, for $580 million USD. On 11 September 2005, News Corp. announced that it would buy IGN Entertainment for $650 million (USD).
The subject of Murdoch's alleged anti-competitive business practices surfaced in September 2005. Australian media proprietor Kerry Stokes, owner of the Seven Network, instituted legal action against News Corporation and the PBL organization, headed by Kerry Packer. The suit stemmed from the 2002 collapse of Stokes' planned cable television channel C7 Sport, which would have been a direct competitor to the other major Australian cable provider, Foxtel, in which News and PBL have major stakes.
Seven complained that News Corporation had abused its market power which derived from its half-ownership of the National Rugby League, half-ownership of C7's direct competitor, Fox Sports, and 25 per cent ownership of the Foxtel pay TV service. Seven wanted Justice Ronald Sackville to order News and Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd to divest their combined 50% stake in Foxtel or to sell their wholly owned Fox Sports. They argued that this would be justified because of the way in which Foxtel gave preferential treatment to Fox Sports and declined to take any rival sports channel provider on "reasonable commercial terms".
In evidence given to the court on 26 September 2005, Stokes alleged that PBL executive James Packer came to his home in December 2000 and warned him that PBL and News Limited were "getting together" to prevent the AFL rights being granted to C7.
However, Justice Sackville dismissed Seven's case on all grounds, saying that there was "more than a hint of hypocrisy" in many of Seven's claims.
Recently, Murdoch has bought out the Turkish TV channel, TGRT, which had been previously confiscated by the Turkish Board of Banking Regulations, TMSF. Newspapers report that Murdoch has bought TGRT in a partnership with the Turkish recording mogul Ahmet Ertegün.
Murdoch has recently won a media dispute with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Burlusconi. A judge ruled the Italian Prime Minister's media arm had prevented News Corp's Italian unit, Sky Italia, from buying ads on its television networks.
Murdoch found a political ally in John McEwen, leader of the Australian Country Party, who was governing in coalition with the larger Menzies-Holt Liberal Party. From the very first issue of The Australian Murdoch began taking McEwen's side in every issue that divided the long-serving coalition partners. (The Australian, 15 July 1964, first edition, front page: "Strain in Cabinet, Liberal-CP row flares.") It was an issue that threatened to split the coalition government and open the way for the stronger Australian Labor Party to dominate Australian politics. It was the beginning of a long campaign that served McEwen well.
McEwen repaid Murdoch's support later by helping him to buy his valuable rural property Cavan, and then arranged a clever subterfuge by which Murdoch was able to transfer a large sum of money from Australia to England in order to finalize the purchase of The News of the World without obtaining the required authority from the Australian Treasury.
After McEwen and Menzies retired, Murdoch transferred his support to the newly elected Leader of the Australian Labor Party, Gough Whitlam, who was elected in 1972 on a social platform that included universal free health care, free education for all Australians to tertiary level, recognition of the People's Republic of China, and public ownership of Australia's oil, gas and mineral resources.
Rupert Murdoch's flirtation with Whitlam turned out to be brief. He had already started his short-lived National Star newspaper in America, and was seeking to strengthen his political contacts there.
In 1985 Murdoch became a United States citizen to satisfy legislation that only United States citizens could own American television stations. This also resulted in Murdoch losing his Australian citizenship.
Asked about the Australian federal election, 2007 at News Corporation's annual general meeting in New York on 19 October 2007, its chairman Rupert Murdoch said, "I am not commenting on anything to do with Australian politics. I'm sorry. I always get into trouble when I do that." Pressed as to whether he believed Prime Minister John Howard should be re-elected, he said: "I have nothing further to say. I'm sorry. Read our editorials in the papers. It'll be the journalists who decide that – the editors."
Murdoch's publications generally have conservative leanings, in comparison with other national newspapers. During the buildup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, all 175 Murdoch-owned newspapers worldwide editorialized in favor of the war. Murdoch also served on the board of directors of the libertarian Cato Institute.
On 8 May 2006, the Financial Times reported that Murdoch would be hosting a fundraiser for Senator Hillary Clinton's (D-New York) Senate reelection campaign. Murdoch's New York Post newspaper had opposed Clinton's Senate run in 2000.
In May 2007, Murdoch made a $5 billion offer to purchase Dow Jones, owner of the Wall Street Journal. At the time, the Bancroft family, which controlled 64% of the shares, firmly declined the offer, opposing Murdoch's much-used strategy of slashing employee numbers and "gutting" existing systems. Later, the Bancroft family confirmed a willingness to consider a sale – besides Murdoch, the Associated Press reported that supermarket magnate Ron Burkle and Internet entrepreneur Brad Greenspan were among the interested parties. On 1 August 2007, the BBC's "News and World Report" and NPR's Marketplace radio programs reported that Murdoch had acquired Dow Jones; this news was received with mixed reactions.
In a 2008 interview with Walt Mossberg, Murdoch was asked whether he had "anything to do with the New York Post's endorsement of Barack Obama in the democratic primaries." Without hesitating, Murdoch replied, "Yeah. He is a rock star. It's fantastic. I love what he is saying about education. I don't think he will win Florida... but he will win in Ohio and the election. I am anxious to meet him. I want to see if he will walk the walk."
In Britain, Murdoch formed a close alliance with Margaret Thatcher, and The Sun credited itself with helping John Major to win an unexpected election victory in the 1992 general election. However, in the general elections of 1997, 2001 and 2005, Murdoch's papers were either neutral or supported Labour under Tony Blair. This has led some critics to argue that Murdoch simply supports the incumbent parties (or those who seem most likely to win an upcoming election) in the hope of influencing government decisions that may affect his businesses. The Labour Party under Blair had moved from the Left to a more central position on many economic issues prior to 1997. Murdoch identifies himself as a libertarian.
In a speech delivered in New York, Rupert Murdoch said that the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair described the BBC coverage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster as being full of hatred of America. Murdoch is a strong critic of the BBC, which he believes has a left-wing bias and is the major UK competitor to his satellite network Sky.
In 1998, Rupert Murdoch failed in his attempt to buy the football powerhouse Manchester United F.C. with an offer of £625 million. It was the largest amount anyone had yet offered for a sports club. It was blocked by the United Kingdom's Competition Commission, which stated that the acquisition would have "hurt competition in the broadcast industry and the quality of British football".
On 28 June 2006 the BBC reported that Murdoch and News Corporation were flirting with the idea of backing Conservative leader David Cameron at the next General Election. However, in a later interview in July 2006, when he was asked what he thought of the Conservative leader, Murdoch replied "Not much". In a 2009 blog, it was suggested that in the aftermath of the News of the World News of the World phone hacking affair, Murdoch and News Corporation might have decided to back Cameron, although there had already been a converging of interests between the two men over muting of the UK's communications regulator Ofcom.
He is also accused by former Solidarity MSP Tommy Sheridan of having a personal vendetta against him and of conspiring with MI5 to produce a video of him confessing to having affairs – allegations over which Sheridan had previously sued News International and won. On being arrested for perjury following the case, Sheridan claimed that the charges were "orchestrated and influenced by the powerful reach of the Murdoch empire".
Murdoch has a history of hosting private meetings with influential politicians. Both parties naturally dismiss such meetings as politically insignificant; social events, informal dinners or friendly drinks. It has however been argued that such meetings are significant because of Murdoch's exceptional influence as a media oligarch, as well as his consistent interest in and involvement with politics issues.
In August 2008 David Cameron accepted free flights to hold private talks and attend private parties with Murdoch on his yacht, the Rosehearty. Cameron has declared in the Commons register of interests he accepted a private plane provided by Murdoch's son-in-law, public relations guru Matthew Freud; Cameron has not revealed his talks with Mr Murdoch. The gift of travel in Freud's Gulfstream IV private jet was valued at around £30,000. Other guests attending the "social events" included the then EU trade commissioner Lord Mandelson, the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and co-chairman of NBC Universal Ben Silverman. The Conservatives have not disclosed what was discussed.
On 21 April 2007, future Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd dined with Rupert Murdoch in New York, following a one-hour private meeting at Murdoch's News Corporation Building. The two men refused to say what they had discussed. Mr Murdoch would say only that they had discussed "a lot of things". Rudd would say only: "It was just a good chat about things. Life, the world, politics."
News Limited's resources involvement and coverage, in Australia, on the 2009 OzCar affair controversy caused antagonism by Rudd. Rudd responded to a press conference question from The Australian journalist Matthew Franklin, questioning "what sort of journalistic checks were put in place" for publishing a story claiming he was corrupt without "having sighted any original document in terms of this email." Although such newspapers Daily Telegraph, the Courier-Mail and the Adelaide Advertiser are owned by News Limited, it has been viewed that Murdoch's personal involvement is unlikely and "the anti-Rudd push, if it is coordinated at all, is almost certainly locally driven."
Murdoch recently said that Rudd is "...oversensitive and too sensitive for his own good..." in relation Rudd's response to criticism made of him by News Corporation's Australian newspapers. Murdoch also described Rudd as "...more ambitious to lead the world than to lead Australia..." and criticised Rudd's expansionary fiscal policies as unnecessary: "We were not about to collapse...I thought we were trying to copy the rest of the world a little unnecessarily." 
In early summer 2008, a "tentative truce" was brokered during a once secret meeting between Barack Obama, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes (President of the Fox News Channel) at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York. Obama had initially resisted Murdoch's propositions, despite senior News Corp executives having recruited the Kennedys to act as go-betweens. Obama resented Fox News's portrayal of him "as suspicious, foreign, fearsome – just short of a terrorist", while Ailes said "it might not have been this way if Obama had more willingly come on the air instead of so often giving Fox the back of his hand." A "tentative truce" was agreed upon.
Murdoch has been married three times. In 1956 he married Patricia Booker, a former shop assistant and air hostess from Melbourne with whom he had his first child, a daughter Prudence Murdoch, who was born in 1958. They were divorced in 1967, the same year that he married Anna Torv, an Estonian-born cadet journalist working for his Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph. Torv's niece, also named Anna Torv, is now a voice actor and television actor on the Fox network show Fringe.
Torv and Murdoch had three children: Elisabeth Murdoch (born in Sydney, Australia on 22 August 1968), Lachlan Murdoch (born in London, UK on 8 September 1971), and James Murdoch, (born in Wimbledon, UK on 13 December 1972). Murdoch's companies have published two novels by his then wife: Family Business (1988) and Coming to Terms (1991); both are widely regarded as vanity publications. Anna and Rupert divorced acrimoniously in June, 1999.
Anna Murdoch received a settlement of US$ 1.2 billion in assets. Seventeen days after the divorce, on 25 June 1999, Murdoch, then aged 68, married Chinese-born Deng Wendi (Wendi Deng in Western style). She was 30, a recent Yale School of Management graduate, and a newly appointed vice-president of STAR TV. In October 1999 Anna Murdoch also remarried, to William Mann.
Rupert Murdoch has two children with Deng: Grace Helen (born in New York 19 November 2001) and Chloe (born in New York 17 July 2003).
Murdoch's eldest son Lachlan, formerly the deputy chief operating officer at the News Corporation and the publisher of the New York Post, was Murdoch's heir apparent before resigning from his executive posts at the global media company at the end of July 2005. Lachlan's departure left James, chief executive of the satellite television service British Sky Broadcasting since November 2003, as the only Murdoch son still directly involved with the company's operations, though Lachlan has agreed to remain on the News Corporation's board.
After graduating from Vassar College and marrying classmate Elkin Kwesi Pianim (the son of Ghanaian financial and political mogul Kwame Pianim) in 1993, Murdoch's daughter Elisabeth, along with her husband, purchased a pair of NBC-affiliate television stations KSBW and KSBY in California with a $35 million loan provided by her father. By quickly re-organizing and re-selling them at a $12 million profit, in 1995 Elisabeth emerged as an unexpected rival to her brothers for the eventual leadership of the publishing dynasty's empire. But after quarrelling publicly with her assigned mentor Sam Chisholm at BSkyB, she struck out on her own as a television and film producer in London, where she has enjoyed independent success in conjunction with her second husband, Matthew Freud.
It is not known whether Murdoch will remain as News Corp's CEO indefinitely. For a while the American cable television entrepreneur John Malone was the second-largest voting shareholder in News Corporation after Murdoch himself, potentially undermining the family's control. In 2007, the company announced that it would sell certain assets and give cash to Malone's company in exchange for its stock. In 2007 Murdoch issued his older children with equal voting stock, perhaps to test their individual levels of interest and ability to run the company according to the standards he has set.
Rupert Murdoch has been portrayed by Barry Humphries in the 1991 mini-series Selling Hitler, Hugh Laurie in a parody of It's a Wonderful Life in the television show A Bit of Fry & Laurie, Ben Mendelsohn in Black and White, Paul Elder in The Late Shift and by himself on The Simpsons.
On his 1994 album Happiness?, Queen drummer Roger Taylor recorded Dear Mr Murdoch, a song critical of Murdoch and which referred to him as "The King of the Tits". On the Eagles' "Farewell Tour I - Live from Melbourne" DVD, lead singer Don Henley dedicates the playing of "Dirty Laundry" to Murdoch.
Some have speculated that Elliot Carver, the villain in the James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies is a parody of Rupert Murdoch. The writer of the film, Bruce Feirstein has stated that Carver was actually a portrayal of Rupert Murdoch's arch rival, British press magnate Robert Maxwell.
He is referenced in the film The Devil Wears Prada. During a scene set in the Paris hotel suite of Miranda Priestley (Meryl Streep), she and executive assistant Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) are talking about their need to minimize the publicity surrounding the end of yet another of her marriages. After describing potential headlines splashed across "Page 6" she says "Rupert Murdoch should cut me a check for all the newspapers I sell for him."
In 1999, The Economist reported that Newscorp Investments had made £11.4 billion ($20.1 billion) in profits over the previous 11 years but had not paid net corporation tax. It also reported that after an examination of the available accounts, Newscorp could normally have been expected to pay corporate tax of approximately $350 million. The article explained that in practice the corporation's complex structure, international scope and use of offshore tax havens allowed News Corporation to pay minimal taxes.
While CEO of News Corp in 2008, K. Rupert Murdoch earned a total compensation of $30,053,157, which included a base salary of $8,100,000, a cash bonus of $17,500,000, stocks granted of $4,049,988, and no options.
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