The Life of Rupert Murdoch, 20th Century’s Last Media Mogul
As Rupert Murdoch turns 90, we look at the life of twentieth century’s biggest media mogul.
(This article was first published on 12 June 2015 and is being reposted from The Quint’s archives to mark Rupert Murdoch’s birthday.)
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch turns 89 today, an age at which most would have sought a calm, retired life. Mr Murdoch, however, shows no signs of taking things easy or slowly. It’s only been a few years since his marriage (his fourth) to actress and model Jerry Hall.
In 2015, Murdoch handed over the reins of his media dynasty to his sons – an empire that began with Australia’s News Limited, which Murdoch inherited from his father, Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch nearly a century ago.
Handing over the Reigns
James Murdoch took over as CEO, and Lachlan Murdoch as executive co-chairman of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc in 2015. There was some talk in Wall Street about how efficiently the pair will run the conglomerate behind Fox News, the Fox broadcast network and the 20th Century Fox movie studio.
Murdoch has run the company known as News Corporation since 1979, before it split into two businesses. While the newspaper operations stayed with News Corp, the more profitable film and TV businesses became Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.
The Journey So Far
Starting from the single newspaper Rupert Murdoch inherited from his father, he built an empire in Australia with the Daily Mirror and the Australian. Later in 1960s, it expanded to The Times of London and the Sunday Times in Britain, the New York Post, Twenty-First Century Fox and Fox News in the US, the Sky satellite broadcasting network in Europe, and the Star TV network in India.
The Economist credits him for inventing “the modern tabloid newspaper – a stew of sexual titillation, moral outrage and political aggression.”
Murdoch was asked about the quality of tabloid news by Justice Leveson’s inquiry into phone hacking and the ethics and culture of the UK media.
Q: Did tabloid standards deteriorate between 1968 and 1981 under him?
No, says Murdoch.
“We expanded to a new young public... The Sun has not been a better paper than it is today. I couldn’t say the same about my competitors but we won’t go into that.”
– Rupert Murdoch
Fox Network was launched in the 1980s after ABC, CBS and NBC had dominated for a half-century. Then he tackled cable TV with Fox News, which quickly toppled CNN as the cable news leader.
Social Media Failure
In 2005, News Corp tried to get a head start on the social media scene by buying Myspace for $580 million. Laid waste by the Facebook juggernaut, Myspace was later sold for just $35 million.
NOTW Phone Hacking Scandal
In recent years, Murdoch was stung by a phone hacking scandal by his journalists in the News of the World, which shut shop in July 2011. Murdoch later appeared before British lawmakers and ended up apologising for the incident, which also led to many arrests.
Continued Grip Despite Handover
Murdoch still retains a grip on the corporation through a family trust that owns 38 percent of the voting shares.
News Corp’s Holdings Include:
- The Wall Street Journal and New York Post newspapers
- Publishing and financial information company Dow Jones
- Vogue and GQ magazines
- HarperCollins Publishers
- The Times of London, The Sunday Times and The Sun newspapers
- The Australian and The Herald Sun
Twenty-First Century Fox Owns:
- The studio Twentieth-Century Fox Film
- Fox Networks, Fox News, Fox Broadcasting, Fox Sports, Fox Business and FX
- European satellite TV company, Sky
- Media and entertainment company, Star India
- It also has majority control over the regional entertainment sports network Yes, and is a partner in National Geographic Channels and the Big Ten Network
(With AP inputs)
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