Thursday, July 14, 2011

More lessons from News Corp/International/Limited

Just so we are all clear - News Corp is the parent company, originally of Adelaide now of Delaware. News International is the UK operation. News Limited is the Australian operation.

The company name comes from the Adelaide News. Rupert's father was a journalist, editor then manager. He died with shares in some companies, not control of any. The executors sold the share of Herald and weekly Times allowing Rupert, his mother and siblings to retain the Adelaide News and a Queensland title (can't recall if it was the Courier-Mail).

Rupert sold the Adelaide News when he later acquired the HWT group - competition concerns wouldn't allow him to acquire the HWT title the Advertiser otherwise.

The purpose of this tale is to remind you of the structure of News Corp, and that Murdoch will happily adjust that structure to suit his needs.

An underlying question is what his commitment is to printed media, in particular newspapers. The recent acquisition of The Wall Street Journal clearly indicates Murdoch hasn't given up on print. Despite the public perception that Governments these days are made by television or even social media, Murdoch knows that enduring contributions stem from the daily drip of print that gets recycled in the electronic media.

That changes only when the contagion effect of rapid news transmission takes hold - the mob effect that I earlier referred to in the closure of News of the World.

That closure hasn't yet contained the damage, having to now walk away from the BSkyB bid.

The biggest issue with News Corp remains the ability of the 80 year old Murdoch to maintain control, and to create a family succession. The group faces periodic shareholder actions and the latest turmoil adds to those.

Some have speculated that Murdoch will go a step further and abandon the entire UK business. The challenge is that the shareholding base probably sees a change of executives not a change of structure as the solution.

This creates the possibility of the unthinkable - is the only way to save News Corp and the possibility of a family succession for Rupert to go now. If he accepts the blame for the culture and every other error there is no one left to pursue.

James and Elisabeth are both tarnished by the News International story (and the purchase of Shine). Lachlan is currently a relative clean skin - having effectively rejected the culture of his father.

Finally there is ample evidence that what goes on in News is cultural - by which one means unstated by widely accepted norms of behaviour. News Limited has been playing the game pretty solidly over its support of the Sky News bid for Australia Network - even though the ownership is through News International.

Today the Oz has run a story as a kind of "counter corruption" story suggesting inappropriate behaviour by ABC execs in support of the ABC bid. Ultimately the prohibition on lobbying during tendering is an obligation on those being lobbied not the lobbyists. I would be dearly interested in knowing if anyone from News or Seven or lobbyists acting on their behalf has said anything to any Minister about the tender. The difficulty is getting anyone to admit to it - on either side.

Note: A couple of reading recommendations. The Shawcross biography of Murdoch is far better than Wolff's The Man Who Owns the News, but the latter is more up to date. The story of subscription television in the UK, and the eventual merger of Sky and BSB to make BSkyB is well told in Dished! The Rise and Fall of British Satellite Broadcasting.)


Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

1 comment:

SAOL001 said...

Hey David,
great homework and fine report. Hope I may use it for my info blog to describe some of the irregularities they perpetrate here in India together with corrupt officials who use and support their Star Networks infrastructure.
Am currently searching for more info on their India operations.

Mel