Rupert 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:
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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.” The 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 »
Avon Pension Fund and others who owned News Corp stock from mid-February to mid-July 2011 charged in the class action suit … Read More »
UPDATE: Below the original post is a copy of Rupert Murdoch’s memo to staff at 21st Century Fox regarding today’s appointments. In it, he notes that the evolution of the company’s leadership, “underscores the considerable planning that both the Company and the Board have undertaken to ensure a … Read More »
The Stateside phone hacking-scandal suit that a former body double for Angelina Jolie filed against News Corp last summer looks likely to end up in the U.K. if a federal judge doesn’t change his mind. Before a hearing Monday … Read More »
Lex Fenwick had joined News Corp’s Dow Jones & Co in February 2012 coming from a long run at Bloomberg Llp. He will be replaced on an interim basis by News Corp COO William Lewis while the company reviews … Read More »
China’s State Council has temporarily repealed a ban on selling foreign video game consoles, Reuters reports this morning. The move had been expected and will open up a path for the likes of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo … Read More »
In a bid to ramp up its digital and video strategy, News Corp is adding social news agency, Storyful, to its stable. Storyful is a Dublin, Ireland-based news gathering platform developed and powered by journalists. The media giant paid … Read More »
Jim Kennedy had joined Sony Pictures in 2005 after working as a Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary to President Bill Clinton and as head of communications for the White House Counsel’s office, Vice President Al Gore, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut Attorney General’s office, and the Clinton Foundation. He has been overseeing media relations for SCA at Sony’s New York headquarters since October 2011. Here’s today’s release about him running communications at the “new” News Corp: Read More »
Shares are down about 2.7% in postmarket trading after News Corp reported disappointing results for the quarter ended September 30. The company generated net income of $38M, up from an $83M loss in the period last year, on revenues of $2.07B, -2.9%. Analysts expected revenues to come in at $2.2B. Earnings at 5 cents a share matched the consensus forecast. The News and Information Services unit — which includes The Wall Street Journal — was hit hardest, with revenues -10% to $1.5B. The Australian newspapers weighed on the results, with revenues -22% accounting for a majority of the decline. But the company says it also saw “moderating declines at Dow Jones and News UK.” Ad sales fell 12%, and circulation was -6%. In Book Publishing, which includes HarperCollins, revenues fell 7% to $328M. News Corp says e-book sales were up 30%, accounting for 22% of revenues, but were offset by the company’s divestiture of the Women of Faith live events business and softness in Christian publishing. Revenues would have fallen 5% without the one-time changes and fluctuations in foreign exchange rates.
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On October 14, Rupert Murdoch tweeted: “Big media trials in London in 2 weeks. Remember, everyone innocent until proven guilty, entitled to fair trial in most countries.” Murdoch was referring to the criminal trial related to phone hacking at his now defunct News Of The World tabloid. This morning, eight defendants including former Murdoch employees Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson made it to court amid a media frenzy for what some are calling the “Trial of the Century.” It may feel like a century once the proceedings wrap sometime around Easter 2014 and after an expected 100 witnesses have been called. Jury selection began today with the prosecution starting later in the week.
While Murdoch, Brooks and Coulson are no longer linked professionally, the outcome of the trial has the potential to impact the mogul’s business going forward. Even the News Corp-owned Wall Street Journal wrote that the courtroom drama “could further embarrass both the media giant and the British government.” One of the lines of questioning during the Leveson Inquiry into UK media ethics, the probe hatched by Prime Minister David Cameron in the wake of the News Of The World scandal, focused on the relationships between politicians and newspaper proprietors and editors. With Brooks and Coulson now standing trial, this could put News Corp’s relationship with the UK government back into the spotlight. Brooks was head of News Corp‘s UK press arm, News International (now News UK), until the phone-hacking scandal first exploded at the News Of The World in July 2011. She has denied the five charges against her including conspiracy to hack phones, conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office by paying officials for stories, and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Coulson was formerly editor of News Of The World. He went on to become Cameron’s spin doctor, a post he vacated in 2011. He is facing three charges related to phone hacking and conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. They are joined by six other defendants who have all pleaded not guilty, including Brooks’ husband Charlie, a longtime Cameron friend. Read More »
This is a shift for Institutional Shareholder Services, and a recommendation that it has to know is doomed to fail. The investor advisory firm endorsed all of the board candidates last year when Rupert Murdoch‘s entertainment and publishing properties were combined at News Corp. But ISS is upset that the mogul adopted an anti-takeover plan called a poison pill in June when he split his assets between two companies: 21st Century Fox for entertainment, and News Corp for publishing. ISS now wants Fox shareholders to oppose Murdoch, his sons James and Lachlan, COO Chase Carey, and five Murdoch allies when they’re up for election to the board at Fox’s first annual meeting on October 18. In addition, the firm wants shareholders to support a resolution calling for an independent board chairman — Rupert is CEO and chairman — and to end the two-tier stock system that enables the Murdoch family to control 39.4% of the votes even though it owns just 14% of the all shares. Read More »
This is a complicated annual exercise for 21st Century Fox — and its predecessor, News Corp — as it tries to comply with U.S. laws that bar a company from owning TV station licenses if non-citizens control more than 25% of its total voting shares. … Read More »
News Corp has paid out nearly $200 million in the past year alone in settlements related to the ongoing phone hacking scandal. Late last week, the company made it very clear that it doesn’t intend to make a payment to Eunice Huthart, a former body double for Angelina Jolie. In a June civil complaint, Huthart became the first person to file a hacking-scandal suit against News Corp and its UK press arm News International in the U.S. On September 20, News Corp filed back, asking the federal court to dismiss Huthart’s privacy violations case on a series of grounds. “The Court should dismiss the complaint on the grounds of lack of personal jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. But it need not even reach those issues — instead, the Court should dismiss this lawsuit under the doctrine of forum non conveniens with instructions that it be re-filed, if at all, in the United Kingdom,” said the motion by the company (read it here). A hearing in the case is scheduled for January 6.
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It’s hard to say that the write-down hurt the publishing operation for the fiscal year that ended in June. The noncash charge, disclosed today in the company’s first annual report since being separated from Rupert Murdoch‘s … Read More »
I don’t know whether Rupert Murdoch was familiar with Southeastern Asset Management and its billionaire CEO O. Mason Hawkins before today — but I can assure you that he is now. The Memphis-based investment firm says … Read More »
Cairo-based Al Resalah is an Islamic satellite channel that is part of Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal’s Rotana Group, the media company of which News Corp owns nearly 19%. The prince said in a tweet this weekend … Read More »
News International, the British newspaper division of News Corp which was recently renamed News UK, is being actively investigated by Scotland Yard, say reports from Reuters and The Independent. … Read More »
Hrithik Roshan Shrugs Off Brain Surgery, Returns To Work
Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan is to go back before the cameras for local Fox feature Bang Bang in mid-November. The actor underwent brain surgery to remove a blood clot last month, putting the film on hiatus, but now says he is “doubly charged and looking forward to resuming” production”. Siddharth Anand is directing the film, which also stars Katrina Kaif. “Hrithik is raring to go and his enthusiasm is infectious,” Anand said according to NDTV. The release of the film has been moved from May to October 2, 2014, to take advantage of the four-day Dussehra weekend holiday. Roshan is one of Bollywood’s hottest stars and next will be seen in Krrish 3, which bows November 4.
David Harewood Passes Up A Dance For ‘By Any Means’
Erstwhile Homeland CIA director David Harewood turned down a slot on BBC series Strictly Come Dancing last month, but he will appear in another show on the network. Life On Mars and Death In Paradise producer Red Planet Pictures is putting the finishing touches on six-part drama series By Any Means and has added a handful of well-known British guest stars for the first season. Along with Harewood, Downton Abbey‘s Amy Nuttall, Mr. Selfridge‘s Nick Moran and legendary Bond Girl Honor Blackman will all appear. The drama revolves around a clandestine police unit living on the edge and playing the criminal elite at their own game. Regular cast includes Warren Brown (Luther), Shelley Conn (Mistresses), Andrew-Lee Potts (Primeval), Gina McKee (The Borgias) and Elliot Knight (Sinbad). Belinda Campbell and Tony Jordan are exec producers for Red Planet, and Polly Hill exec produces for BBC One.
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