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#77 Rupert Murdoch & family
- Real Time Net Worth As of 8/7/15
- $12.7 Billion
- Chairman and CEO, News Corp
- Source Of Wealth
- media, Self Made
- New York, NY
- United States
- Marital Status
- Bachelor of Arts / Science, Oxford University; Master of Arts, Oxford University
- #77 Billionaires (2015)
- #33 in United States
- #78 in 2014
- #32 Powerful People (2014)
- #33 Forbes 400 (2014)
Rupert Murdoch was born on March 11, 1931, in Melbourne, Australia. His father was a famous war correspondent and newspaper publisher. Murdoch inherited his father’s papers, the Sunday Mail and the News, and continued to purchase other media outlets over the years. In the 1970s, he started buying American newspapers. Murdoch branched out into entertainment with the purchase of 20th Century Fox Film Corp. in 1985. He later launched his own cable news channel, FOX News.
Early Life and Career
Keith Rupert Murdoch was born on March 11, 1931, on a small farm about 30 miles south of Melbourne, Australia. Since birth, Murdoch has gone by his middle name, Rupert, the name of his maternal grandfather. His father, Keith Murdoch, was a well-known Australian journalist who owned a number of local and regional newspapers: the Herald in Melbourne, the Courier-Mail in Brisbane, and the News and Sunday Mail.
The family farm was named Cruden Farm, after the Scottish village from which both of Murdoch’s parents had emigrated. The house at Cruden Farm was a stone building with colonial pillars, adorned with original paintings, a grand piano and a library of books, situated amongst green expanses of farmland and bordered by Ghost Gum trees. Murdoch’s favorite childhood pastime was horseback riding. His mother later described her son’s childhood: “I think it was a very normal childhood, not in any way elaborate or an overindulged one. I suppose he was lucky to be brought up in attractive—you could say aesthetic—surroundings.”
The son of a well-respected journalist, Murdoch was groomed to enter the world of publishing from a very young age. He remembers, “I was brought up in a publishing home, a newspaper man’s home, and was excited by that, I suppose. I saw that life at close range, and after the age of ten or twelve never really considered any other.” Murdoch graduated from Geelong Grammar, a prestigious Australian boarding school, in 1949 before crossing the ocean to attend Worcester College at Oxford University in England. According to one of his early biographers, Murdoch was a “a normal, red-blooded college student who had many friends, chased girls, went on the usual drinking binges, engaged in slapdash horseplay, tried at sports and never had enough money, no doubt due to his gambling.” Murdoch’s fun-loving youthful ways came to an abrupt end when his father suddenly passed away in 1952, leaving his son the owner of his Adelaide newspapers, theNews and the Sunday Mail. After preparing himself with a brief apprenticeship under Lord Beaverbrook at the Daily Express in London, in 1953, a 22-year-old Murdoch returned to Australia to take up the reins of his father’s papers.
Immediately upon assuming control of the Sunday Mail and the News, Murdoch immersed himself in all aspects of the papers’ daily operations. He wrote headlines, redesigned page layouts and labored in the typesetting and printing rooms. He quickly converted the News into a chronicle of crime, sex and scandal, and while these changes were controversial, the paper’s circulation soared. Only three years later, in 1956, Murdoch expanded his operations by purchasing the Perth-based Sunday Times, and revamped it in the sensationalist style of the News. Then, in 1960, Murdoch broke into the lucrative Sydney market by purchasing the struggling afternoon daily, theMirror, and slowly transforming it into Sydney’s best-selling afternoon paper. Encouraged by his success and harboring ambitions of political influence, in 1965 Murdoch founded Australia’s first national daily paper, the Australian, which helped to rebuild Murdoch’s image as a respectable news publisher.
In the fall of 1968, 37 years old and owner of an Australian news empire valued at $50 million, Murdoch moved to London and purchased the enormously popular Sunday tabloid, The News of the World. One year later, he purchased a struggling daily tabloid, the Sun, once again transformed the paper into a wild success with his formula of reporting heavily on sex, sports and crime. The Sun also attracted readers by including pictures of topless women in its infamous “Page 3” feature.
Murdoch next expanded his news empire to the United States, with the 1973 acquisition of a Texas-based tabloid, the San Antonio News. As he had done in Australia and England, Murdoch quickly set out to expand across the country, founding a national tabloid, the Star, in 1974 and purchasing theNew York Post in 1976. In 1979, Murdoch founded News Corporation, commonly referred to as News Corp., as a holding company for his various media properties.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Murdoch acquired news outlets around the globe at a dizzying pace. In the United States, he bought up the Chicago Sun-Times, the Village Voice and New York magazine. In England, he acquired the eminently respectable Times and Sunday Times of London.
It was also during these years that Murdoch began expanding his media empire into television and entertainment. In 1985, he purchased 20th Century FOX Film Corporation as well as several independent television stations and consolidated these companies into FOX, Inc.—which has since become a major American television network. In 1990, he founded STAR TV, a Hong Kong-based television broadcasting company that broadcasts to over 320 million viewers across Asia. Throughout the late 1980s, he purchased several prestigious American and British academic and literary publishing companies and consolidated them into HarperCollins in 1990. Murdoch has also invested in sports; he is a part owner of the Los Angeles Kings NHL franchise, the Los Angeles Lakers NBA franchise and the Staples Center, as well as FOX Sports Radio and FOXSports.com.
With the dawn of the new century, Murdoch continued to expand News Corp’s holdings to control more and more of the media people view on a daily basis. In 2005, he purchased Intermix Media, the owner of the popular social networking site MySpace.com. Two years later, in 2007, the longtime newspaper mogul made headlines himself with the purchase of Dow Jones, the owner of the Wall Street Journal.
Murdoch has drawn wide criticism for monopolizing control over international media outlets as well as for his conservative political views, which are often reflected in the reporting of Murdoch-controlled outlets such as FOX News Channel. In the 2010 American midterm elections, News Corp donated $1 million each to the Republican Governors Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a group supporting Republican candidates. Critics argued that the owner of major news sources covering the election should not contribute directly to the political campaigns involved.
His empire, however, was dealt a significant blow in 2011. His London tabloid, The News of the World, was caught up in a phone hacking scandal. Several editors and journalists were brought up on charges for illegally accessing the voicemails of some of Britain’s leading figures. Rupert himself was called to testify that same year, and he shut down The News of the World. News Corp later paid damages to some of individuals who were hacked.
Despite this scandal, News Corp retains a significant share of virtually all forms of media across the globe. Murdoch owns many of the books and newspapers people read, the television shows and films they watch, the radio stations they listen to, the websites they visit, and the blogs and social networks they create. In 2013, he announced a significant restructuring of his empire. Murdoch decided to divide his business into two companies—21st Century Fox Inc. and News Corp. This move separated his entertainment holdings from his publishing interests. According to the Los Angeles Times, Murdoch explained that “Both companies will be uniquely positioned to execute on their respective strategic objectives and to lead their industries forward.”
Although he could never have imagined the power he would one day yield, this kind of influence was exactly what Murdoch sought as a young publisher building his empire. “I sensed the excitement and the power,” he recalls. “Not raw power, but the ability to influence at least the agenda of what was going on.” And after six decades working in the media, Murdoch has said that he could not imagine his life any other way. “If you’re in the media, particularly newspapers, you are in the thick of all the interesting things that are going on in a community, and I can’t imagine any other life that one would want to dedicate oneself to,” he said.
In June 2015, news broke that Murdoch would be handing over the leadership of 21st Century Fox to his son James. James would become the company’s chief executive while Murdoch would stay on in the organization as the executive co-chairman. Murdoch would share this position with his oldest son Lachlan. The company’s board must approve this plan before it can be implemented.
Rupert Murdoch married Patricia Booker in 1956. They had a daughter, Prudence, before divorcing in 1965. He married Anna Torv in 1967, and they had four children before eventually divorcing in 1999. Only 17 days after his second divorce, Murdoch married his third wife, Wendi Deng. They have two children.
Murdoch filed for divorce from Deng in June 2013, citing that the “relationship between husband and wife had broken down irretrievably” in court papers. The news of the split came as a surprise to some, but there had some rumors of trouble in the marriage in recent years. The couple has a prenuptial agreement, but many have speculated that there may still be a battle for his billions.
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BornKeith Rupert Murdoch
11 March 1931
Melbourne, AustraliaNationalityAmericanCitizenshipUnited States (naturalized 1985)[a]Alma materWorcester College, OxfordOccupationChairman and CEO of News Corporation (1979–2013)
Executive chairman of News Corp (2013–present)
Chairman and CEO of 21st Century Fox (2013–2015)
Executive co-chairman of 21st Century Fox (2015–present)Net worth US$13.4 billion (June 2015)Political partyConservative
Liberal partyBoard member ofNews Corp
21st Century FoxReligionChristianSpouse(s)Patricia Booker
(1956–1967, 1 child)
Anna Murdoch Mann
(1967–1999, 3 children)
(1999–2013, 2 children)ChildrenPrudence (b. 1958)
Elisabeth (b. 1968)
Lachlan (b. 1971)
James (b. 1972)
Grace (b. 2001)
Chloe (b. 2003)Parent(s)Keith Murdoch (1885–1952)
Elisabeth Joy (1909–2012)RelativesJanet Calvert-Jones (sister)
Anne Kantor (sister)
Helen Handbury (sister)
Matthew Freud (son-in-law)
Sarah Murdoch (daughter-in-law)AwardsCompanion of the Order of Australia (1984)Notes
- Australian citizenship lost in 1985 (under S17 of Australian Citizenship Act 1948) with acquisition of US nationality.
Keith Rupert Murdoch /ˈmɜrdɒk/, AC, KCSG (born 11 March 1931) is an Australian American business magnate. Murdoch became managing director of Australia’sNews Limited, inherited from his father Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch in 1952. He is the founder, chairman and CEO of global media holding company News Corporation, the world’s second-largest media conglomerate, and its successors News Corp and 21st Century Fox after the conglomerate split on 28 June 2013.
In the 1950s and ’60s, he acquired various newspapers in Australia and New Zealand, before expanding into the United Kingdom in 1969, taking over the News of the World followed closely by The Sun. He moved to New York City in 1974 to expand into the US market, but retained interests in Australia and Britain. In 1981, he boughtThe Times, his first British broadsheet, and became a naturalised US citizen in 1985 to satisfy the legal requirement for US television ownership.
In 1986, keen to adopt newer electronic publishing technologies, he consolidated his UK printing operations in Wapping, causing bitter industrial disputes. His News Corporation acquired Twentieth Century Fox (1985), HarperCollins (1989) and The Wall Street Journal (2007). He formed the British broadcaster BSkyB in 1990, and during the 1990s expanded into Asian networks and South American television. By 2000, Murdoch’s News Corporation owned over 800 companies in more than 50 countries with a net worth of over $5 billion.
In July 2011, Murdoch faced allegations that his companies, including the News of the World, owned by News Corporation, had been regularly hacking the phones of celebrities, royalty and public citizens. He faces police and government investigations into bribery and corruption by the British government and FBI investigations in the US. On 21 July 2012, Murdoch resigned as a director of News International. On July 1, 2015, Murdoch left his post as CEO of 21st Century Fox.
Murdoch was born Keith Rupert Murdoch on 11 March 1931 in Melbourne, Australia to Sir Keith Murdoch (1885–1952) and Elisabeth Joy Greene (1909–2012), daughter of Rupert Greene. Rupert is of English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry. His parents were also born in Melbourne. Keith Murdoch was a war correspondent and later a regional newspaper magnate owning two newspapers in Adelaide, South Australia, and a radio station in a faraway mining town. Later in life, Keith Rupert chose to use Rupert, the first name of his maternal grandfather.
Keith Murdoch the elder asked for a rendezvous with his future wife after seeing her debutante photograph in one of his own newspapers and they married in 1928, when she was aged 19 and he 23 years her senior. In addition to Rupert, the couple had three daughters: Janet Calvert-Jones, Anne Kantor and Helen Handbury (1929–2004). Murdoch attended Geelong Grammar School, where he had his first experience of editing a publication, being co-editor of the school’s official journal The Corian and editor of the student journal If Revived. He also took his school’s cricket team to the National Junior Finals. He worked part-time at the Melbourne Heraldand was groomed by his father from an early age to take over the family business. Murdoch read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Worcester College, Oxford in England, where he supported the Labour Party and managed Oxford Student Publications Limited, the publishing house of Cherwell. After her husband’s death from cancer in 1952, Elisabeth Murdoch went on to invest herself in charity work, as life governor of the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne and establishing the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. At 102 (in 2011), she had 74 descendants. Murdoch completed an MA before working as a sub-editor with the Daily Express for two years.
Activities in Australia and New Zealand
Following his father’s death, when he was 21, Murdoch returned from Oxford to take charge of the family business News Limited, which had been established in 1923. Rupert Murdoch turned its newspaper, Adelaide News, its main asset, into a major success. He began to direct his attention to acquisition and expansion, buying the troubled Sunday Times in Perth, Western Australia (1956) and over the next few years acquiring suburban and provincial newspapers in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and the Northern Territory, including the Sydney afternoon tabloid, The Daily Mirror (1960). The Economist describes Murdoch as “inventing the modern tabloid”, as he developed a pattern for his newspapers, increasing sports and scandal coverage and adopting eye-catching headlines.
Murdoch’s 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 Wellington paper by the British-based Canadian newspaper magnate, Lord Thomson of Fleet. On the spur of the moment, he launched a counter-bid. A four-way battle for control ensued in which the 32-year-old Murdoch was ultimately successful. Later in 1964, Murdoch launched The Australian, Australia’s first national daily newspaper, which was based first in Canberra and later in Sydney. In 1972, Murdoch acquired the Sydney morning tabloid The Daily Telegraph from Australian media mogul Sir Frank Packer, who later regretted selling it to him. In 1984, Murdoch was appointed Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for services to publishing.
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.
Political activities in Australia
Murdoch found a political ally in John McEwen, leader of the Australian Country Party (now known as the National Party of Australia), 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.
After McEwen and Menzies retired, Murdoch threw his growing power behind the Australian Labor Party under the leadership of Gough Whitlam and duly saw it elected 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 backing of Whitlam turned out to be brief. Murdoch had already started his short-lived National Star newspaper in America, and was seeking to strengthen his political contacts there.
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 withAustralian politics. I’m sorry. I always get into trouble when I do that.” Pressed as to whether he believed Prime Minister John Howard should continue as prime minister, 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.” In 2009, in response to accusations by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that News Limited was running vendettas against him and his government, Murdoch opined that Rudd was “oversensitive”. Murdoch described Howard’s successor, Labor Party Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, as “…more ambitious to lead the world [in tackling climate change] than to lead Australia…” and criticised Rudd’s expansionary fiscal policies in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008 as unnecessary. Although News Limited’s interests are extensive, also including the Daily Telegraph, the Courier-Mail and the Adelaide Advertiser, it was suggested by the commentator Mungo MacCallum in The Monthly that “the anti-Rudd push, if coordinated at all, was almost certainly locally driven” as opposed to being directed by Murdoch, who also took a different position from local editors on such matters as climate change and stimulus packages to combat the financial crisis.
Activities in the United Kingdom
Business activities in the United Kingdom
In 1968 Murdoch entered the British newspaper market with his acquisition of the populist News of the World, followed in 1969 with the purchase of the struggling daily broadsheet The Sun from IPC. Murdoch turned The Sun into a tabloid format and reduced costs by using the same printing press for both newspapers. On acquiring it, he appointed Albert ‘Larry’ Lamb as editor and – Lamb recalled later – told him: “I want a tearaway paper with lots of tits in it”. In 1997 The Sun attracted 10 million daily readers. In 1981, Murdoch acquired the struggling Times and Sunday Times from Canadian newspaper publisher Lord Thomson of Fleet. Ownership of The Times came to him through his relationship with Lord Thomson, who had grown tired of losing money on it as a result of much industrial action that stopped publication. In the light of success and expansion at The Sun the owners believed that Murdoch could turn the papers around. Harold Evans, Editor of the Sunday Times from 1967, was made head of the daily Times, though he stayed only a year amid editorial conflict with Murdoch.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, Murdoch’s publications were generally supportive of Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. At the end of the Thatcher/Major era, Murdoch switched his support to the Labour Party and its 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. This later changed, with The Sun, in its English editions, publicly renouncing the ruling Labour government and lending its support to David Cameron‘sConservative Party, which soon afterwards formed a coalition government. In Scotland, where the Tories had yet to recover from their complete annihilation in 1997, the paper began to endorse the Scottish National Party (though not yet its flagship policy of independence), which soon after came to form the first ever outright majority in the proportionally elected Scottish Parliament. Former 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 purpose-built publishing facility in an old warehouse. The bitter dispute at Wapping started with the dismissal of 6,000 employees who had gone on strike and resulted in street battles and demonstrations. Many on the political left in Britain alleged the collusion of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government with Murdoch in the Wapping affair, as a way of damaging the British trade union movement. In 1987, the dismissed workers accepted a settlement of £60 million.
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 subsidised by the profits generated by his other holdings, but convinced rival satellite operator British Satellite Broadcasting to accept a merger on his terms in 1990. They were quick to see the advantages of direct to home (DTH) satellite broadcasting that did not require costly cable networks and the merged company, BSkyB, has dominated the British pay-TV market ever since. By 1996, BSkyB had more than 3.6 million subscribers, triple the number of cable customers in the UK. British financier Lord Jacob Rothschild, a close Murdoch friend since the 1960s, served as deputy chairman of Murdoch’s BSkyB corporation from 2003–2007, and Murdoch jointly invested with Rothschild in a 5.5 percent stake in Genie Oil and Gas, which conducted shale gas and oil exploration in Israel.
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 on-line 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 percent of its profits.
Political activities in United Kingdom
In Britain, in the 1980s, Murdoch formed a close alliance with Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher, and The Sun credited itself with helping her successor John Major to win an unexpected election victory in the 1992 general election, which had been expected to end in a hung parliament or a narrow win for Neil Kinnock‘s Labour. In the general elections of 1997, 2001 and 2005, Murdoch’s papers were either neutral or supported Labour under Tony Blair.
The Labour Party, from when Tony Blair became leader in 1994, had moved from the Left to a more central position on many economic issues prior to 1997. Murdoch identifies himself as a libertarian, saying “What does libertarian mean? As much individual responsibility as possible, as little government as possible, as few rules as possible. But I’m not saying it should be taken to the absolute limit.”
In 1998, Rupert Murdoch made an attempt to buy the football club Manchester United F.C., with an offer of £625 million, but this failed. It was the largest amount ever 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 considering backing new Conservative leader David Cameron at the next General Election – still up to four years away. 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 phone hacking scandal which is still ongoing in 2012 and might yet have Transatlantic implications Murdoch and News Corporation might have decided to back Cameron. Despite this, there had already been a convergence of interests between the two men over the muting of Britain’s communications regulator Ofcom.
He is 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”.
In August 2008, British Conservative leader and future Prime Minister 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 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.
In July 2011, it emerged that Cameron met key executives of Murdoch’s News Corporation 26 times during the 14 months that Cameron had served as Prime Minister. It was also reported that Murdoch had given Cameron a personal guarantee that there would be no risk attached to hiring Andy Coulson, the former editor of News of the World, as the Conservative Party’s communication director in 2007. This was in spite of Coulson having resigned as editor over phone hacking by a reporter. Cameron chose to take Murdoch’s advice, despite warnings from Nick Clegg, Lord Ashdown and The Guardian. Coulson resigned his post in 2011 and was later arrested and questioned on allegations of further criminal activity at The News of the World, specifically the News International phone hacking scandal. As a result of the subsequent trial, Coulson was sentenced to 18 months in jail.
News International phone hacking scandal
In July 2011 Rupert Murdoch, along with his son James, provided testimony before a British parliamentary committee regarding phone hacking. In the U.K., his media empire remains under fire as investigators continue to probe reports of other phone hacking.
On 14 July, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the House of Commons served a summons on Murdoch, his son James, and his former CEO Rebekah Brooks to testify before a committee on 19 July. After an initial refusal, the Murdochs confirmed they would attend after the committee issued them a summons to Parliament. The day before the committee, the website of the News Corporation publication The Sunwas hacked, and a false story was posted on the front page claiming that Murdoch had died. Murdoch described the day of the committee “the most humble day of my life”. He argued that since he ran a global business of 53,000 employees and that the News of the World was “just 1%” of this, he was not ultimately responsible for what went on at the tabloid. He added that he had not considered resigning, and that he and the other top executives had been completely unaware of the hacking.
On 15 July, Murdoch attended a private meeting in London with the family of Milly Dowler, where he personally apologized for the hacking of their murdered daughter’s voicemail by a company he owns. On 16 and 17 July, News International published two full-page apologies in many of Britain’s national newspapers. The first apology took the form of a letter, signed by Rupert Murdoch, in which he said sorry for the “serious wrongdoing” that occurred. The second was titled “Putting right what’s gone wrong”, and gave more detail about the steps News International was taking to address the public’s concerns. In the wake of the allegations Murdoch accepted the resignations of Rebekah Brooks, head of Murdoch’s British operations, and Les Hinton, head of Dow Jones who was chairman of Murdoch’s British newspaper division when some of the abuses happened. They both deny any knowledge of any wrongdoing under their command.
On 27 February 2012, the following day after Murdoch’s controversial release of the Sun on Sunday, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers informed the Leveson Inquiry that police are investigating a “network of corrupt officials” as part of their inquiries into phone hacking and police corruption. She said that evidence suggested a “culture of illegal payments” at the Sun newspaper and that these payments allegedly made by the Sun were authorised at a senior level.
In testimony on 25 April 2012, Murdoch did not deny the quote attributed to him by his former editor of The Sunday Times, Harold Evans: “I give instructions to my editors all round the world, why shouldn’t I in London?” On 1 May 2012, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee issued a report stating that Murdoch was “not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company”.
On 3 July 2013 Exaro and Channel 4 news broke the story of a secretly recorded tape. The tape was recorded by Sun journalists and in it Murdoch can be heard telling them that the whole investigation was one big fuss over nothing, and that he, or his successors, would take care of any journalists who went to prison. He said: “Why are the police behaving in this way? It’s the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing.”
Activities in the United States
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 to satisfy the legal requirement that only US citizens were permitted to own US television stations. This resulted in Murdoch losing his Australian citizenship.
Marvin Davis sold Marc Rich‘s interest in 20th Century Fox to Murdoch for $250 million in March 1984. Davis later backed out of a deal with Murdoch to purchase John Kluge‘s Metromedia television stations.Murdoch went alone and bought the stations, and later bought out Davis’ remaining stake in Fox for $325 million. The six television stations owned by Metromedia would form the nucleus of the Fox Broadcasting Company, founded on 9 October 1986, which would go on to have great success with programmes such as The Simpsons and The X-Files.
In 1987 in Australia, he bought The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd, the company that his father had once managed. By 1990 News Corporation had built up debts of $7 billion (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 1993, it took exclusive coverage of the National Football League (NFL) from CBS and increased programming to seven days a week. 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 favour, stating that his ownership of Fox was in the best interests of the public. That same year, Murdoch announced a deal with MCI Communicationsto develop a major news website and magazine, The Weekly Standard. Also that year, News Corporation 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. Ratings studies released in 2009 showed that the network was responsible for nine of the top ten programs in the “Cable News” category at that time. Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner (founder and former owner of CNN) are long-standing rivals. In late 2003, Murdoch acquired a 34 percent stake in Hughes Electronics, the operator of the largest American satellite TV system, DirecTV, from General Motors for $6 billion (USD). His Fox movie studio would go on to have global hits with Titanic and Avatar.
In 2004, Murdoch announced that he was moving News Corporation 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.
On 20 July 2005, News Corporation bought Intermix Media Inc., which held Myspace, Imagine Games Network and other social networking-themed websites, for $580 million USD, making Murdoch a major player in online media concerns. In June 2011, it sold off Myspace for US$35 million. On 11 September 2005, News Corporation announced that it would buy IGN Entertainment for $650 million (USD).
In May 2007, Murdoch made a $5 billion offer to purchase Dow Jones. At the time, the Bancroft family, who had owned the Dow Jones for 105 years and controlled 64% of the shares at the time, declined the offer. 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 other interested parties. In 2007, Murdoch acquired Dow Jones, which gave him such publications as The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s Magazine, the Far Eastern Economic Review (based in Hong Kong) and SmartMoney.
In June 2014, Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox made a bid for Time Warner at $85 per share in stock and cash ($80 billion total) which Time Warner’s board of directors turned down in July. Warner’s CNN unit would have been sold to ease antitrust issues of the purchase. On 5 August 2014 the company announced it had withdrawn its offer for Time Warner, and said it would spend $6 billion buying back its own shares over the following 12 months.
Political activities in the United States
McNight (2010) identifies four characteristics of his media operations: free market ideology; unified positions on matters of public policy; global editorial meetings; and opposition to a liberal bias in other public media.
On 8 May 2006, the Financial Times reported that Murdoch would be hosting a fund-raiser for Senator Hillary Clinton‘s (D-New York) Senate re-election campaign. 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.” Murdoch is a strong supporter of Israel and its domestic policies.
In 2010, News Corporation gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association and $1 million to the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Murdoch also served on the board of directors of thelibertarian Cato Institute. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Murdoch is also a supporter of the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act.
Murdoch is a supporter of more open immigration policies in western nations generally. In the United States, Murdoch and chief executives from several major corporations, including Hewlett-Packard, Boeing andDisney joined New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to form the Partnership for a New American Economy to advocate “for immigration reform – including a path to legal status for all illegal aliens now in the United States.” The coalition, reflecting Murdoch and Bloomberg’s own views, also advocates significant increases in legal immigration to the United States as a means of boosting America’s sluggish economy and lowering unemployment. The Partnership’s immigration policy prescriptions are notably similar to those of the Cato Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—both of which Murdoch has supported in the past.
The Wall Street Journal editorial page has similarly advocated for increased legal immigration, in contrast to the staunch anti-immigration stance of Murdoch’s British newspaper, The Sun. On 5 September 2010, Murdoch testified before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law Membership on the “Role of Immigration in Strengthening America’s Economy.” In his testimony, Murdoch called for ending mass deportations and endorsed a “comprehensive immigration reform” plan that would include a pathway to citizenship for all illegal immigrants.
In the 2012 U.S. Presidential election, Murdoch was critical of the competence of Mitt Romney‘s team but was nonetheless strongly supportive of a Republican victory, tweeting: “Of course I want him [Romney] to win, save us from socialism, etc.”
Activities in Europe
Murdoch owns controlling interest in Sky Italia, a satellite television provider in Italy. Murdoch’s business interests in Italy have been a source of contention since they began. In 2010 Murdoch won a media dispute with then Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. A judge ruled the then Prime Minister’s media arm Mediaset prevented News Corporation’s Italian unit, Sky Italia, from buying advertisements on its television networks.
Activities in Asia
In 1993, Murdoch acquired Star TV, a Hong Kong company founded by Richard Li for $1 billion (Souchou, 2000:28), and subsequently set up offices for it throughout Asia. The deal enables News International to broadcast from Hong Kong to India, China, Japan and over thirty other countries in Asia, becoming one of the biggest satellite TV networks in the east. 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.
In 1956 Murdoch married Patricia Booker, a former shop assistant and flight attendant from Melbourne and they had their only child, Prudence, in 1958. Rupert and Patricia Murdoch divorced in 1967.
In 1967 Murdoch married Anna Maria Torv (Tõrv), a Scottish-born cadet journalist working for his Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph. During his marriage to Torv, a Roman Catholic, Murdoch was made a Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great (KSG), a papal honour awarded by Pope John Paul II. 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 London on 13 December 1972). Murdoch’s companies published two novels by his then wife: Family Business (1988) and Coming to Terms (1991), both widely regarded as vanity publications. They divorced in June 1999. Anna Murdoch received a settlement of US$1.2 billion in assets.
On 25 June 1999, 17 days after divorcing his second wife, Murdoch, then aged 68, married Chinese-born Wendi Deng. She was 30, a recent Yale School of Managementgraduate, and a newly appointed vice-president of his STAR TV. Murdoch has two daughters with her; Grace (born 2001) and Chloe (born 2003). Rupert Murdoch has six children in all, and is grandfather to thirteen grandchildren. On 13 June 2013, a News Corporation spokesperson confirmed that Murdoch filed for divorce from Deng in New York City, U.S. According to the spokesman, the marriage had been irretrievably broken for more than six months. Murdoch also ended his long-standing relationship with Tony Blair after suspecting him of having an affair with Deng while they were still married.
Murdoch has six children. His eldest child, Prudence MacLeod, was appointed on 28 January 2011 to the board of Times Newspapers Ltd, part of News International, which publishes The Times and The Sunday Times. 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 Murdoch 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 in California, KSBW and KSBY, with a $35 million loan provided by her father. By quickly re-organising 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 divorcing her first husband in 1998 and quarrelling publicly with her assigned mentorSam Chisholm at BSkyB, she struck out on her own as a television and film producer in London. She has since enjoyed independent success, in conjunction with her second husband, Matthew Freud, the great-grandson of Sigmund Freud (the founder of psychoanalysis) whom she met in 1997 and married in 2001.
It is not known how long Murdoch will remain as News Corporation’s CEO. 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, the company issued Murdoch’s older children voting stock.
Murdoch has two children with Wendi Deng: Grace (b. New York, 19 November 2001) and Chloe (b. New York, 17 July 2003). It was revealed in September 2011 that Tony Blair is Grace’s godfather.There is reported to be tension between Murdoch and his oldest children over the terms of a trust holding the family’s 28.5 percent stake in News Corporation, estimated in 2005 to be worth about $6.1 billion. Under the trust, his children by Wendi Deng share in the proceeds of the stock but have no voting privileges or control of the stock. Voting rights in the stock are divided 50/50 between Murdoch on the one side and his children of his first two marriages. Murdoch’s voting privileges are not transferable but will expire upon his death and the stock will then be controlled solely by his children from the prior marriages, although their half-siblings will continue to derive their share of income from it. It is Murdoch’s stated desire to have his children by Deng given a measure of control over the stock proportional to their financial interest in it (which would mean, if Murdoch dies while at least one of the children is a minor, that Deng would exercise that control). It does not appear that he has any strong legal grounds to contest the present arrangement, and both ex-wife Anna and their three children are said to be strongly resistant to any such change.
Portrayal on television, in film, books and music
Murdoch and rival newspaper and publishing magnate Robert Maxwell are thinly fictionalised as “Keith Townsend” and “Richard Armstrong” in The Fourth Estate by British novelist and former MP Jeffrey Archer.
Murdoch has been portrayed
- by Barry Humphries in the 1991 mini-series Selling Hitler
- by Hugh Laurie in a parody of It’s a Wonderful Life in the television show A Bit of Fry & Laurie
- by Ben Mendelsohn in the film Black and White
- by Paul Elder in The Late Shift
- by himself on The Simpsons, first in “Sunday, Cruddy Sunday” and later in “Judge Me Tender“
- by Patrick Brammall in the 2-part mini-series Power Games
- by Kevin Phelan in SQUINT theatre company’s “Long Story Short” (The Pleasance, Islington, 2014)
It has been speculated that the character of Elliot Carver, the global media magnate and main villain in the 1997 James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies, is based on Murdoch. The writer of the film, Bruce Feirstein, has stated that Carver was actually inspired by British press magnate Robert Maxwell, who was one of Murdoch’s rivals.
In 1999, the Ted Turner owned TBS aired an original sitcom, The Chimp Channel. This featured an all-simian cast and the role of an Australian TV veteran named Harry Waller. The character is described as “a self-made gazillionaire with business interests in all sorts of fields. He owns newspapers, hotel chains, sports franchises and genetic technologies, as well as everyone’s favourite cable TV channel, The Chimp Channel.” Waller is thought to be a parody of Murdoch, a long-time rival of Turner’s.
In 2012, the satirical show Hacks, broadcast on UK-based Channel 4, made obvious comparisons with Rupert Murdoch using the fictional character ‘Stanhope Feast’, as well as other central figures in the phone hacking scandal.
Influence, wealth and reputation
||This section may lend undue weight to certain ideas, incidents, or controversies. (May 2014)|
According to Forbes‘ 2013 list of richest Americans, Murdoch is the 33rd richest person in the US and the 91st richest person in the world, with a net worth of US$13.4 billion. In 2014, Forbes ranked “Rupert Murdoch & Family” as the 33rd most-powerful person in the world.
In August 2013, Terry Flew, Professor of Media and Communications at Queensland University of Technology, wrote an article for the Conversation publication in which he verified a claim by former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd that Murdoch owned 70% of Australian newspapers in 2011. Flew’s article showed that News Corp Australia owned 23% of the nation’s newspapers in 2011, according to the Finkelstein Review of Media and Media Regulation, but, at the time of the article, the corporation’s titles accounted for 59% of the sales of all daily newspapers, with weekly sales of 17.3 million copies.
In connection with Murdoch’s testimony to the Leveson Inquiry “into the ethics of the British press”, editor of Newsweek International, Tunku Varadarajan, referred to him as “the man whose name is synonymous with unethical newspapers”.
News Corp papers were accused of supporting the campaign of the Australian Liberal government and influencing public opinion during the 2013 federal election. Following the announcement of the Liberal Party victory at the polls, Murdoch tweeted “Aust. election public sick of public sector workers and phony welfare scroungers sucking life out of economy. Other nations to follow in time”.
- List of assets owned by 21st Century Fox
- List of assets owned by News Corp
- Metropolitan police role in phone hacking scandal
- Murdoch family
- News International phone hacking scandal
- Phone hacking scandal reference lists
Powerhouse executive signs multi-year contract a month after Rupert Murdoch passed reins of company to sons, which had put Ailes’s future at Fox in doubt
Roger Ailes – the powerhouse executive behind Fox News – has signed a new multi-year contract with 21st Century Fox that will see him continuing in his role as chairman and CEO of the channels. The move comes after it appeared Ailes was losing his grip on Fox.
Earlier this month media mogul Rupert Murdoch announced he would pass the reins of his TV, film and news empire to his sons James and Lachlan. Fox announced that Ailes, who has clashed with both sons, would now be reporting to Murdoch’s heirs.
Days earlier Fox Business had reported that Ailes would continue to report directly to Rupert Murdoch.
The company did not specify how long Ailes’s new contract would run but Murdoch and his sons gave the Fox boss a ringing endorsement. “Roger and I have always had, and will continue to have, a special relationship. Lachlan, James and I are delighted that Roger will be leading key businesses for us and our shareholders for years to come, and he has our unwavering support,” Rupert Murdoch said in a statement.
“Roger is an incredibly talented executive and we’re pleased he has accepted our offer to continue his extraordinary record of success at 21st Century Fox,” Lachlan and James Murdoch said in a joint statement. “We look forward to witnessing his energy and entrepreneurial drive in leading the next wave of growth for Fox News, Fox Business Network and Fox Television Stations, as well as many years of continued success together.”
The news is a major victory for Ailes whose relations with both sons has been strained at best. According to Ailes biographer Gabriel Sherman the Fox boss and James Murdoch have clashed over their views on the environment. Ailes is a hardcore rightwing climate change denier, James Murdoch has supported green causes and his wife once worked for the Clinton Foundation.
Lachlan Murdoch returned to Australia after a series of clashes with Ailes. According to Sherman’s biography, The Loudest Voice in the Room, Ailes bragged about moving into Lachlan’s vacant office. “Do you know whose chair I’m sitting in? I’m sitting in Lachlan Murdoch’s chair,” Ailes boasted to a colleague. “Do you know who’s sitting on the other side of that wall? Rupert Murdoch.”
Ailes’s contract was set to expire in 2016, the new deal will keep him at Fox through the presidential election and beyond. Under Ailes’s leadership Fox has been the highest-rated news channel in the US for 13 consecutive years.
The contract deal comes amid a series of top level changes in Murdoch’s empire. The billionaire businessman also announced on Thursday that Natalie Ravitz, Murdoch’s chief of staff and vice president of strategy, would be stepping down from her role and seeking “a leadership operating position.”
It is not yet clear whether Ravitz will stay with the company. Ravitz, previously a communications director with the New York City department of education, has looked after Murdoch’s personal affairs as well as business interests.
“I cannot say enough about the exceptional job Natalie has done for me, giving valued support across many functions. She is immensely talented and able, and has greatly benefited me and our companies. I am confident wherever Natalie chooses to go she will be an incredible asset and wish her all the best,” Murdoch wrote in a memo to staff.