Discovery & BSkyB Poised To Acquire UK’s Channel 5: Report

channel5Back in February, word began to spread that longtime frenemies John Malone and Rupert Murdoch were eyeing a joint acquisition of the UK’s Channel 5. Malone-backed Discovery Communications and BSkyB, majority owned by Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, have now reportedly gone ahead and sewn up a deal. Broadcast reported that Discovery and BskyB are nearing an announcement they have acquired the broadcaster in a deal valued at £350M, which would give the former a 70% stake and the latter 30%. But media entrepreneur Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell, owner of Channel 5, has said it received several bids and was still evaluating them, according to Bloomberg. The free-to-air broadcaster was thought to be seeking a buyer with about £700M to spend, but many were skeptical it would fetch such a price; Desmond paid about £103.5M for it in 2010. Other companies that have been said to have shown interest include Viacom, Turner Broadcasting, BT, NBCUniversal and Saban Capital.

Channel 5 is notably the home of Big Brother, although its contract for the show expires in 2015. The net also airs U.S. dramas like Under The Dome, CSI and Person Of Interest; weekly average ratings hover around 4%. Read More »

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UPDATE: James Cameron on ‘Avatar’ Sequel Timetable Following Rupert Murdoch’s Comments

avatar_poster-200x300Update, Saturday 10:25 AM: In a Reddit AMA this morning, Avatar director James Cameron expounded on the franchise’s timetable in regards to the screenplays, writing, “The second, third and fourth films all go into production simultaneously. They’re essentially all in preproduction now, because we are designing creatures, settings, and characters that span all three films. And we should be finished with all three scripts within the next, I would say, six weeks. There’s always pressure, whether it’s a new film or whether it’s a sequel, to entertain and amaze an audience. I’ve felt that pressure my entire career, so there’s nothing new there. The biggest pressure I feel right now is cutting out things I love to get the film down to a length that is affordable. There hasn’t been a problem finding new and wonderful things to include in the movie.”

In a Fortune interview earlier this week, Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch reiterated what Deadline reported back in August: That there will be three Avatar sequels released respectively in December 2016, 2017 and 2018. Read More »

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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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District Court Dismisses Hacking-Related Case Against News Corp.

News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch leaves his flat with Rebekah Brooks, Chief Executive of News International,  in central LondonAvon Pension Fund and others who owned News Corp stock from mid-February to mid-July 2011 charged in the class action suit … Read More »

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Lachlan And James Murdoch Given Big New Roles At News Corp, 21st Century Fox; Fox Nets Group’s Peter Rice Extends Contract

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 »

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21st Century Fox Shareholders Approve Delisting From Australian Securities Exchange

By | Friday March 21, 2014 @ 8:30am PDT

21stcenturyfox1__131014203730-275x122This is not an unexpected move. 21st Century Fox today announced its stockholders approved the company’s request to remove its foreign listing from the Australian Securities Exchange. This just involves Fox, not News Corp, the entity that includes most of Rupert … Read More »

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Jay Leno Reminds Bill Maher Of Israel As He’s Inducted Into TV Academy Hall Of Fame With Rupert Murdoch, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, David E Kelley, Ray Dolby & Brandon Stoddard: Video

LisaColumn__131015210634-275x198Jay Leno, being inducted into the TV Academy’s Hall of Fame on Tuesday night, said he’s glad he left NBC’s Tonight Show when he did The Television Academy's 23rd Hall Of Fame Induction Galabecause he was the oldest person on the show. Everyone else was 20 to 40 years younger than him and, while you may think you’re holding your own with them, “they’re really just laughing at you,” he explained. “You can’t be hip past a certain age. You have old guy gestures.” And when you make references to The Dick Van Dyke Show they think it’ s “a lesbian joke or something” —  and they don’t understand what you’re talking about when you say the time is “Half past 2.”

Leno told the Beverly Wilshire Hotel gathering his favorite book is Charles Dickens’ novella A Christmas Carol —  a searing indictment of 19th century industrial capitalism — and his favorite character in that classic work of literature, Mr. Fezziwig, who treated a young Ebenezer Scrooge like a son. Leno mentioned this by way of saying how proud he was that his Tonight Show was a place where people came to work hard during the day and, at 6, they went home to be with their family.

Related: Jay Leno’s TV Hall Of Fame Acceptance Speech: Video

Emmyslogo_newEven though he’s now “jobless and penniless” Leno still is a “fantastic stand-up,” said Bill Maher, who inducted Leno into the Hall, and the fact people are wondering what he will do next proves he’s still relevant, the HBO show host said. He described Leno’s more than two decades hosting Tonight as a drive down a highway in “some giant gleaming pristine luxury car with the competition far in the rearview mirror — except one time when NBC,” driving some beat-up clunker, “blindsided him and beat the sh*t out of his beautiful car.” Maher blamed TV critics for rewriting history to make Leno’s predecessor, Johnny Carson, out to be some guy who did a “rebellious, edgy, film noir version” of Tonight Show that by comparison made Jay look like a milquetoast. “That’s all bullsh*t — and I say that as a fan of Carson,” Maher said. Leno is the victim of “some bad publicity over the years” that he did not deserve — most famously how America got it into its head that “Jay Leno stole Conan O’Brien’s dream,” Maher complained, calling it,  “the most hysterical thought I’ve ever heard, in a business known for bullsh*t.”

“Jay reminds me a little of Israel,” Maher continued. “He isn’t perfect but he’s held to standard I don’t think anybody in the world is expected to live up to but him,” he said, calling Leno “the most Machiavellian and also the most morally upright person I know in show business. He will hide in a closet but never needs a confessional booth.” Read More »

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Discovery, BSkyB Considering Joint Bid For Britain’s Channel 5: Report

murdoch maloneAre longtime frenemies John Malone and Rupert Murdoch about to partner on a UK venture? That’s the word on the street according to The Financial Times which reports that the Malone-backed Discovery Read More »

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21st Century Fox Plans To Delist Australian Shares To Just Trade On NASDAQ

By | Thursday January 9, 2014 @ 5:34am PST

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz may be the main beneficiary of the move — which just involves Fox, not News Corp, the entity that includes most of Rupert Murdoch’s publishing and Australian holdings since the operations separated last summer. Read More »

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Trial Of Former Rupert Murdoch Newspaper Lieutenants Starts In London

By | Monday October 28, 2013 @ 10:21am PDT

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 »

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Rupert Murdoch, Fox Board Re-Elected At Shareholders Meeting

By | Friday October 18, 2013 @ 10:49am PDT

UPDATE, 2:18 PM: The official results of today’s shareholder votes are in and while Fox management won resounding victories, the tallies show a few interesting nuances. Nearly 29% of those voting yes or no endorsed a shareholder resolution to … Read More »

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BBC Sets 4 Years Of WWI Programs; Rupert Murdoch To Talk About Dad’s Gallipoli Role

By | Wednesday October 16, 2013 @ 4:41am PDT

The BBC has commissioned more than 2,500 hours of programming that will span four years to mark the centenary of World War I. As part of the ambitious undertaking Rupert Murdoch will be interviewed about his father’s role as the whistle-blower who told the world the truth about the botched Gallipoli campaign in Turkey. The season kicks off in early 2014 and will run through 2018 on BBC TV, Radio and Online and across international, national and local services. At MipTV in April, BBC controller Ben Stephenson foreshadowed some of the plans when he announced five-part half-hour series The Great War from Life On Mars’ Tony Jordan. The series is now titled The Passing-Bells and will be stripped over one week. Other highlights include drama The Ark from Sarah Phelps (Great Expectations) and starring Oona Chaplin, Hermione Norris and Kerry Fox as a dedicated team of medics; factual drama 37 Days about the lead up to war with Ian McDiarmid and Tim Pigott-Smith; four-part documentary Britain’s Great War; and My Great War, a film based on the unseen archive of hundreds of hours of interviews with veterans that the BBC shot in 1964. Read More »

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Investor Advisory Firm Opposes Murdoch And Other Fox Board Members

By | Wednesday October 9, 2013 @ 10:23am PDT

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 »

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Fox Changes Shareholder Voting Formula As Annual Meeting Approaches

By | Friday October 4, 2013 @ 2:46pm PDT

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 »

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Apple’s Tim Cook Joins Twitter But He’s No Rupert Murdoch

By | Friday September 20, 2013 @ 3:32pm PDT

Steve Jobs never did it but today Apple’s current boss Tim Cook made his social media presence official. Right now let’s just say Rupert Murdoch doesn’t have to worry about the … Read More »

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Tech And Media Execs Continue To Dominate Forbes’ Richest Americans List

Bill Gates‘ net worth of $72B enabled him to claim the top spot on the Forbes tally for the 20th consecutive year — followed by Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett ($58.5B), Oracle’s Larry Ellison ($41B), and then Koch Industries’ Charles and David Koch ($36B). While Buffett fattened his holdings the most over the last year, adding $12.5B, the recovery in Facebook’s stock helped to boost Mark Zuckerberg‘s net worth by $9.6B to $19B lifting him 16 spots to No. 20. Once again, the list is heavy with names from the tech world — but at least 28 media execs had a net worth of at least $1.3B, the highest amount needed to qualify for the top 400 since 2008. Bloomberg LP founder Michael Bloomberg, who also happens to be mayor of New York, had $31B, putting him in 10th place, same as last year. Cox Communications’ Anne Cox Chambers, with $13.5B, was 29th (+3 on the list), narrowly beating Rupert Murdoch and family $13.4B (at No. 30, +6). Dish Network’s Charlie Ergen follows at $12.5B (No. 32, +7). Advance Publications’ Samuel Newhouse had $8.9B (No. 46, same as last year) ahead of brother Donald’s $8.2B (No. 52, -1). There’s a tie at No. 61 with the $6.7B net worth for Cox Enterprise’s Jim Kennedy (same rank as last year) and Liberty Media’s John Malone (he’s -4 spots on the list). Other media names include: Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: Multiple Deals For Nicolas Cage Drama ‘Joe’; Vodafone OKd For $10.2B Kabel Deutschland Buyout; More

WestEnd Films Seals Multiple Deals For Nicolas Cage Drama ‘Joe’
International sales company WestEnd Films has closed a raft of deals on David Gordon Green’s drama Joe, starring Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan. The film debuted in Venice, where Sheridan won the best newcomer prize. The Worldview Entertainment-produced and -financed film then appeared in Toronto, where deals were sealed with Japan (CCC), Australia (Madman), Benelux (Cinéart) and Scandinavia (Non Stop). Artificial Eye picked it up in the UK, and the film had previously sold to 15 territories include France (Wild Side), Germany (Koch Media), Latin America (Swen), China (Media Asia), Israel (United King), and Greece (Spentzos Films). CAA is repping the North America rights, with Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions and Magnolia Pictures being the front-runners as of Friday.

Vodafone Set To Acquire Germany’s Kabel Deutschland For $10.2B
Shareholders of Kabel Deutschland — Germany’s largest cable company — voted Friday to accept Vodafone’s buyout offer of €87 ($115.70) a share, which includes a €2.50 dividend payment. Vodafone, Germany’s top mobile network with 32 million subscribers, said the required 75% minimum of Kabel investors had been met. The deal, which gives Vodafone 7.6 million cable subs, continues its strategy of offsetting declining revenue by selling mobile phone subscriptions alongside TV, landline and broadband services. Reuters reported Friday that three hedge funds that tendered shares enabling Vodafone’s successful Kabel bid plan to sue for a better price for their outstanding holdings.

Read More »

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Rupert Murdoch Questioning By Parliament Postponed In Light Of UK Criminal Trials: Report

By | Thursday September 12, 2013 @ 3:23am PDT

In the wake of revelations of a secret recording of Rupert Murdoch addressing staff at his Sun tabloid, the UK’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport in July invited the mogul to discuss the matter at … Read More »

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Value Investor Buys 11.9% Of News Corp

By | Tuesday September 10, 2013 @ 4:07pm PDT

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 »

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