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Rupert Murdoch Talks About Succession, Politics, And His Greatest “Screwup”: Fortune

murdoch-rupertRupert Murdoch is all over Twitter. (“My family are horrified that I’m on it,” he says.) But in agreeing to sit down for a broad interview with Fortune, one of the media industry’s most powerful moguls signals that he’s finally ready to return in a serious way to the public stage that he has largely abandoned as he grappled with his UK hacking scandals and a bitter divorce, as well as uncertainty about the prospects for his media empire — which he split into two companies last year — and his succession plans. You should check out the piece by senior editor-at-large Pattie Sellers. Here are a few of the highlights:

Related: Rupert Murdoch Says There May Be Multiple ‘Avatar’ Sequels: Fortune

Succession: His sons James and Lachlan are first in line to take over although “I’m going to be here for a long time. And so will [Fox COO] Chase Carey and [News Corp CEO]  Robert Thomson.” murdochsThe effort to bring Lachlan back intensified after a private meeting with James at last year’s Allen & Co confab in Sun Valley. “We had two or three hours together. Lachlan was not not going to come back. It was a question of how we would work together.”

Related: Lachlan And James Murdoch Given Big New Roles At News Corp

Daughter Liz Murdoch’s decision not to join the News Corp board: Rupert says he’d “rather not go into that.” A lot of close families “have good arguments. That doesn’t mean they don’t love each other.” And it’s “more than possible” that she’ll return to the family business.

Who’ll be the GOP’s 2016 presidential candidate: Murdoch says former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is “my number one” calling him “a man of very fine character.” He also has “particular admiration” for Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie “could recover” from inquiries into his possible role in manufactured traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge. Murdoch agrees with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on “a great number of things” but disagrees on foreign policy “too strongly perhaps to vote for him.”

His view of Hillary Clinton: He left open the possibility of supporting her but “it would depend on the Republican candidate totally.” He adds that he “could live with Hillary as President. We have to live with who we get. We don’t have any choice.” Read More »

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Alex Mahon Named Shine Group CEO

By | Thursday July 12, 2012 @ 6:35am PDT

The promotion was confirmed today by Shine’s founder Elisabeth Murdoch who has served as both Chairman and CEO since the company’s inception in 2001. Alex Mahon will assume full responsibility for day to day management of the 28 operating companies within Shine Group. Murdoch will continue as Group Chairman leading Shine’s creative talent, culture and strategy. The changes are effective from September.

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WHAT CRISIS? Defiant Sky Focuses On Ambitious Slate In Face Of News Corp Mess

Sky in late July announced its fall original TV line-up. New comedy shows include Gates, script-edited by Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous); Starlings, executive produced by Steve Coogan; and Spy, starring Brit TV mainstay Robert Lindsay about a father and son who are both secret agents. Fall dramas include the return of Strike Back, the first co-production between Sky and HBO/Cinemax, and a new version of Treasure Island, starring Elijah Wood, Eddie Izzard and Donald Sutherland. Mad Dogs, Sky’s psychological thriller, returns for a second season in January. And Naveen Andrews (Lost) stars in Sinbad, Sky’s biggest original drama commission yet, due to air fall 2012.

These new Sky shows are part of the $951 million annual push into original TV production announced by Jeremy Darroch, CEO of BSkyB. In a TV economy in which cash from other broadcasters is drying up, Sky’s move into home-grown programming is a welcome UK boost. Until now, Sky has mainly relied on movies and sports to drive subscribers. and it has relied on U.S. shows such as The Simpsons, Lost and 24 to attract customers. This is about to change. Original drama hours will more than triple to 60 hours a week by 2014. Sky currently spends $619 million a year on original content. BSkyB has huge financial resources to support its programming ambitions. The company reported a 10% rise in revenue in the year-end to June 2011 to $10.7 billion. Enders Analysis, the London-based research house, predicts BSkyB’s revenues will rise to $13.2 billion in 2015, exceeding the combined revenues of rivals the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five. Sophie Turner-Laing, managing director of entertainment and news, tells me that Sky Studios will be at the heart of this programming push. “We so wanted to have entertainment produced on site,” she says.

BSkyB is not just making new shows for its Sky1 general entertainment channel. It is also developing bigger projects for its Sky Atlantic channel to sit alongside U.S. imports Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones and Blue Bloods. Three U.S. networks, including at least one cable channel, are vying to buy Hit and Miss, Sky’s first original program for Sky Atlantic. Chloe Sevigny stars as a transsexual hit-woman in Hit and Miss, which is currently filming in Manchester. The show is executive produced by Paul Abbott, who wrote BBC drama State of Play.

Sky is pushing hard into original TV partly because it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract new subscribers. Sky has spent heavily on Hollywood movies and sports to reach its current 10.1 million customers. It wants to add entertainment to attract those who have resisted Sky so far. The move will allow Sky to appear better value to new and existing customers. And, in particular, attract more women, who aren’t so keen on premium sports and movies. Sam Chisholm, a previous Sky CEO, has described BSkyB’s lack of women customers as the “female handbrake” holding it back. Backed up by the $1.8 billion Sky spends on marketing each year – which includes subsidising all its set-top boxes — the broadcaster hopes to release the female handbrake.

David Elstein, former BSkyB director of programmes, says the broadcaster has reached the point where it has to show not just more but better programs as well. “It took HBO 20 years to reach that stage so BSkyB is on track,” he said. “There is a limit to what return you get from spending on sport, there is nothing more to be done on movies, there are no new channels to induce into the Sky package, technology investment has peaked. But Elstein remains bullish on its long-term prospects. ”BSkyB will see itself competing with HBO, AMC and Showtime in terms of drama and perhaps comedy, rather than the BBC and ITV.”

Meanwhile just completed is Sky Studios, the pay-TV behemoth’s new $379 million TV facility that opened in July. What a difference from two decades ago when Rupert Murdoch said his whole Sky TV enterprise was being launched on “a wing and a prayer. His News Corp would eventually craft a $14 billion bid for complete control that is now a very public failed deal. Read More »

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Liz Murdoch’s Shine Staff Given Windfall

By | Wednesday April 20, 2011 @ 10:01am PDT

How’s this for a nice windfall? Shine has paid staff a flat bonus of £10,000 ($16,380), having finalized the £415 million takeover deal by News Corp. This is according to TV trade Television Business International. The flat bonus was paid last week to all permanent staff who had been at the TV production and distribution group for a year or longer irrespective of job title, though some senior managers would have had larger payouts because of shares and options held. Shine declined to comment but confirmed to TBI the bonus was paid to employees last Wednesday/Thursday by way of thanks for building the company before its sale to the Murdoch empire. It is not clear how many Shine employees have qualified for the bonus, though the group’s headcount can run to 1,000, depending on what is in production. Shine’s portfolio includes Reveille’s The Biggest Loser and The Office. The News Corp deal for Shine was announced in late February. It closed earlier this month. Remember that Liz Murdoch first set up Shine in 2001 bolstered by an output deal at Sky TV, the UK pay-TV giant controlled by her father Rupert.

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U.S. Lawsuit Unlikely To Keep News Corp. From Buying Liz Murdoch’s Shine

By | Thursday March 17, 2011 @ 8:38am PDT

American investors are suing Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. over its decision to buy his daughter’s TV company Shine, claiming it is such a poor deal they are ”paying for nepotism.” New York-based Amalgamated Bank, representing several funds that hold 1 million shares, and the Central Laborers Pension Fund of Illinois said in filings to Delaware Chancery Court that Murdoch was treating the company “like a wholly-owned candy store,”  that the $675 million deal makes no business sense and that the media giant is paying far more for Shine than it’s worth.

But the legal protests appear unlikely to scupper the deal, which is expected to close within the next few weeks. The takeover is not large enough to require News Corp. shareholder approval; it only needs the approval of News Corp.’s audit committee as well as each company’s respective boards. News Corp. has already dismissed the lawsuit as being “without merit” and added that Shine is “a very attractive business.”

The suit alleges that News Corp.’s board failed to question or challenge Rupert Murdoch. In a stinging attack, the investors’ lawyers allege, “In addition to larding the executive ranks of the company with his offspring, Murdoch constantly engages in transactions designed to benefit family members.”

According to the complaint, Elisabeth Murdoch will receive $320 million in return for her 53% stake in Shine — whose portfolio includes Reveille’s The Biggest Loser and The Office — and still remain CEO and chairman. Amalgamated said … Read More »

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Shine Pictures Hires BBC Exec Paula Jalfon

By | Thursday December 2, 2010 @ 5:14am PST

Jalfon, currently BBC Films’ commercial manager who’s considered a shrewd dealmaker, will start at Shine on January 11 overseeing finance and production for Liz Murdoch’s film operations Shine Pictures and Kudos Pictures. She will also produce and executive movies for Shine Pictures, the joint venture with Hollywood producer/financier New Regency, Shine and Kudos. At the BBC, Jalfon exec produced Streetdance 3D and In the Loop. Jalfon is leaving the BBC at the same time that BBC Films co-head Jane Wright is also quitting. I understand that Wright had become increasingly unhappy at Auntie. Shine’s next release is Brighton Rock, which UK distributor Optimum Releasing will open on February 4.

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News Corp’s Sky Pays Rupert’s Daughter Liz Murdoch 40% Less For TV Shows

BSkyB paid Liz Murdoch’s Shine Group £6 million ($9.3 million) for programming last year, the company said in its annual report. That is 40% less than the £10 million it paid Murdoch, sister of non-executive chairman James Murdoch, and her Shine Group last year. Shows that Shine, the UK’s biggest independent TV producer, has made for Sky include a revival of 80s game show Gladiators.

Sky’s directors appear confident the company’s share price is going to rise further. In June News Corp bid £7.8 billion for the 61% of Sky it doesn’t own. News Corp’s offer was rebuffed by Sky, which is holding out for 800p a share. Jeremy Darroch, CEO of BSkyB, has more than tripled the number of shares he owns in Sky to 230,046 compared with 60,000 shares last summer. This means Darroch could collect £6.6 million if the 800p-a-share deal does go through. CFO Andrew Griffith, 39, has been similarly bullish, acquiring 52,000 shares on top of the 5,000 he already owned. Last month, News Corp’s deputy chairman Chase Carey appeared to rule out increasing the offer.

Darroch pocketed a 14.6% pay rise in the year to June 30, bumping up his total package to £2.7 million. Darroch hit his performance targets, triggering a £1.7 million bonus. Combined with his £866,250 salary and other benefits, the CEO’s total pay was lifted up from £2.3 … Read More »

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Shine Acquires UK Comedy TV Producer

By | Tuesday June 29, 2010 @ 1:04pm PDT

Shine Group logo LargeLiz Murdoch has talked about wanting to beef up comedy at her Shine Group and now she’s done it. Shine has bought UK comedy producer Brown Eyed Boy from Motive Television. This is Shine’s 5th new UK-based production company alongside Dragonfly (factual), Kudos (drama), Princess Productions (entertainment) and Shine TV. Gary Reich, managing director of Brown Eyed Boy, has discovered some of Britain’s best comedians including Sacha Baron Cohen and The Mighty Boosh’s Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt. NBC is developing a U.S. version of Brown Eyed’s BBC sitcom How Not To Live Your Life.

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