The leaked announcement this week that Rupert Murdoch is to “relinquish” his 60-year reign at the top of the News Corporation mountain has been met with some skepticism by media insiders.
It seems that Rupert is to give up executive control of the Twenty-First Century Fox entity and hand it over to his son James.
@rupertmurdoch you’re being very quiet today Rupert, nothing to say on the succession leak on Fox or the slumping share price for company?
— Ethical Martini (@ethicalmartini) June 12, 2015
Many, like Crikey correspondent, Stephen Mayne, feel that Murdoch’s move is a feint , which, in reality, will cement his family’s hold on the lucrative cross-media business. Mayne wrote that the Murdoch is the master of ruse when it comes to managing his family’s controlling interest in the News businesses.
…the Murdochs have made a career out of gaming media laws and bending regulators to extend their two-decade run as the world’s most powerful family.
Today’s leak to Fox News is just another step along the way in that journey for a family that is now worth about $15 billion, and carrying very little risk through either public or private debt.
Writing on The Conversation, Brian McNair describes the succession leak as a “Game of Thrones” moment for News Corp.
And what of the future for news and journalism at News Corp? One imagines that if James and Lachlan do succeed their father, they would bring to the roles his personal commitment to investment in journalism, and a readiness to lose money in an activity with overreaching political value, here in Australia not least.
On the other hand, when Rupert does eventually depart for the great newsroom in the sky, will more mundane corporate realities come to the fore, spelling trouble for the loss-making Australian, The Times in the UK, and other outlets?
To further complicate matters of ownership and financial regulation of News Corp, in 2013 the company was split into two wings; one—21st Century Fox—controlling film and television assets, mainly in the United States, the other—News Corp—a global network of newspapers and a publishing house (Rushe 2013). But in Australia, News Corp will hold both newspaper assets and Foxtel/Sky which is likely because of the huge losses suffered by the Australian newspaper, which could be as much as $33 million a year according to Murdoch watcher, Neil Chenoweth.
But maybe, just maybe Rupert’s time has come.
Take a look at this recent fairly bizarre tweet. We all make mistakes, but for someone who for 60 years has been a proud journalist (in his own mind at least), surely this is a gaffe too far.
HillaryNo Surely smart enough to know she was talking nonsense at yesterday's yesterday.
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) June 14, 2015