8. News Corp. Ltd./21st Century Fox
Revenues 2017: € 32.430 billion
Rupert Murdoch’s New Corp. includes high-circulation tabloid papers such as the ‘Sun’ in Great Britain, sports and news channels stretching from India over Europe to Latin America, film productions, and since 2007, the renowned Dow Jones imprint (“Wall Street Journal”. As of today, Fox news has become the most important gearwheel of the company, being the most successful commercial news channel in the United States. Ever since the payment of one million US Dollars to the Republican Governors Association in 2010, News Corp. has been considered one of the Republican Party’s biggest supporters as well. In the wake of the 2011- phone-hacking scandal at the British newspaper “News of the World” the size and influence of Murdoch’s empire have come under scrutiny.
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036, USA
Telefon: 001 212-852-7000
Telefax: 001 212-852-7145
Branches: Newspapers, book publishing, film production, television, online properties
Legal form: Public Company
Financial year: 07/01 - 06/30
Founding years: 1952, 2013 (Spin-Off)
|21st Century Fox||News Corp.|
|Revenues ($ Mio.)||33,706||33,405||32,788||30,423||32,996||28,655||25,327||23,859||20,802|
|Profit (loss) after taxes ($ Mio.)||1,179||4,850||2,539||(3,378)*||5,387||3,420||2,314||2,128||1,533|
|Share price (in $, end of year)||22.21||17.76||14.50||15.92||9.44||22.94||22.26||16.61||19.20|
|Dividend (per share)||0.18||0.095||0.075||0.12||0.12||0.11||0.13||0.04||0.02|
* due to impairment charges and other costs of $ Mio. 9,298.
Executives and Directors
- Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman
- Lachlan Murdoch, Non-Executive Chairman
- Robert Thomson, Chief Executive Officer
- Susan Panuccio, Chief Financial Officer
- Keisha Smith-Jeremie, Chief Human Resources Officer
- Antoinette Bush, Global Head of Government Affairs
- Anoushka Healy, Chief Strategy Officer
- Jim Kennedy, Chief Communications Officer
- David Pitofsky, General Counsel
- Marc Frons, Chief Technology Officer
Board of Directors:
- Rupert Murdoch
- Lachlan Murdoch
- Peter L. Barnes, Metcash
- Kelly Ayotte
- José María Aznar
- Natalie Bancroft
- Joel I. Klein
- James Murdoch
- Ana Paula Pessoa, Brunswick Group
- Masrorr Siddiqui, Naya Management
- Robert J. Thomson
21st Century Fox
- James Murdoch, Chief Executive Officer
- Lachlan Murdoch, Executive Chairman
- Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman
- John Nallen, Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer
- Gerson Zweifach, Senior Executive Vice President & Group General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer
- Julie Henderson, Executive Vice President, Chief Communications Officer
- Janet Nova, Executive Vice President, Deputy General Counsel
- Chip Smith, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs
- Reed Nolte, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations
- Paul Cheesebrough, Chief Technology Officer
- Thomas Gassmeier, Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer
Board of Directors:
- Rupert Murdoch
- Chase Carey
- Sir Roderick I. Eddington, J.P. Morgan
- Delphine Arnault, Louis Vuitton Malletier
- James W. Breyer, Accel Partners
- David Devoe
- Viet Dinh, Georgetown University
- James Murdoch
- Lachlan Murdoch
- Jacques Nasser, One Equity Partners
- Robert Silberman, Strayer Education
- Tidjane Thiam, Prudential plc
- Jeffrey W. Ubben, ValueAct Capital
History and Profile
The News Corporations has its roots in Australia: Following studies in Oxford and a job as junior reporter at the ‘Daily Mail’ (London), the 21 year old Rupert inherited the tarnished ‘Adelaide News’ in 1952 from his father Sir Keith Murdoch. Shortly after, when the publisher of the almighty regional competitor looked to take over the ‘News’ for cheap, young Rupert showed his teeth for the first time and utilized a strategy which he would use again with a similarly smashing success on the British press market, 40 years later: He lowered the price. The competition was asleep, lost its readership in droves and had to sell to Murdoch eventually. In 1964, Murdoch founded the first nationwide Australian daily newspaper and pulled up in Great Britain in 1968. Here, he acquired mass newspapers ‘News of the World’ and ‘The Sun’, which he transformed into popular-conservative sensationalist papers.
With the acquisition of the ‘San Antonio Express News’ Murdoch started to get involved on the US media market in 1973. The first highlight came in 1976 with the takeover of the weakened ‘New York Post’, increasing its circulation quite considerably in no time by using the ‘Sun’ strategy. It was in 1979, when the News Corporation was born and it is still running all of Murdoch’s global activities from Sydney and holds its annuals in Adelaide. By 1980, Murdoch had taken over quality newspapers of world standing for the first time – the London „Times“ and the ‘Sunday Times’, followed by others newspapers in Australia and the United States of America.
Until 1986, News Corp. remained a publisher. It was only through the takeover of the Twentieth-Century-Fox-Filmstudios that Murdoch ventured out into audiovisual. An Australo-Brit, excluded from the American TV market thus far, Murdoch took the oath on the American constitution in 1986. He immediately purchased six local TV broadcasters, which served as initial nucleus for the first founding of a national TV network since 1948: Fox Broadcasting. In 1989, he launched Europe’s first satellite TV - Sky Television - in Great Britain. After 18 months, Sky merged with unsuccessful British Satellite Broadcasting and became BSkyB.
At the outset of the nineties, the TV activities almost broke the News Corp’s neck: They devoured enormous sums. A 7.6 billion Dollar debt became payable at short notice. Several creditor banks became nervous and initially denied a conversion of debt. News Corp. was only a few minutes away from liquidation, writes Murdoch biographer William Shawcross. What saved him, of all things, was the revenue from the Christmas blockbuster ‘Home Alone’ by his previously rather unsuccessful film studio Twentieth Century Fox.
Murdoch swiftly came out on top again and began to take over Asian satellite broadcaster Star TV from 1993 onwards. Furthermore, he bought into US broadcaster chain New World Communications in 1994. Conversely, they fused their ten TV stations to the Fox network. By 1996, Murdoch completely took over New World Communications and launched his own news channel Fox News, a direct competitor to CNN. After several attempts, Murdoch finally succeeded in acquiring American satellite company DirecTV in 2004. Ever since, News Corp. has been working towards building a worldwide network of TV channels and stations.
The investments in the publishing field continued as well. By mid 2007, publishing family Bancroft announced the sale of their newspaper company Dow Jones, which publishes the ‘Wall Street Journal’ (amongst others) – to Rupert Murdoch. A prominently staffed committee should guard over the editorial office’s independence, as critics of the deal feared Murdoch’s personal influence on his new newspaper titles.
According to his biographer William Shawcross, Rupert Murdoch’s recipe for success lies in the fact that Murdoch combines the instincts of a gambler with puritanical discipline. He is an ‘Apostle of global communication’. His TV channels, newspapers and magazines reach 4.7
billion people, which equals three third of the world population.
A glance over the literature that is concerned with the rise of Murdoch reveals two opposing trends. Some authors, including Michael Wolff, author of the most recent Murdoch biography, argue that - in his heart - Murdoch remained the journalist, which he had been by the beginning of his career as a local editor of an Australian newspaper. Murdoch would cherish journalistic ideals such as curiosity and independent research and thus went on to become one of the world’s most successful media entrepreneurs.
Other observers claim the opposite. To Bruce Page, all News Corp. media are ‘pseudo-newspapers’-, filled to the brim with hypocritical rhetoric, targeting the establishment. Robert Greenwald on the other hand came out with the „Outfoxed“ documentary to demonstrate how Fox News keeps blurring the line between news coverage and commentary and how the Murdoch channel initiates calumny campaigns against liberal politicians. Greenwald is convinced: Rupert Murdoch wages a war against serious journalism.
Trying to locate Murdoch on the political coordinate system is quite the ambiguous task. His alliances with political potentates are seemingly arbitrary. His favourite politicians towards whose proximity he aspired to approximate himself in order to improve prevailing media-political circumstances include Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, John Major, Ronald Reagan and Deng Xiaoping. Although Murdoch’s own channel Fox News attracted attention in the election year 2008 due to racist news coverage about Afro-Americans, particularly targeting president-to-be Barack Obama and his wife, Rupert Murdoch himself donated high amounts to the democratic candidate and planned to have his ‘New York Post’ print an ‘endorsement’ for Obama. Following a Protest by Fox-News-Chef Roger Ailes it printed one for the Republican John McCain instead.
The news Corp. erects a special corporation for each of its activities – in every country in which its publishers or channels are present. Murdoch himself dominates all important decisions deep into every singular company. His managers always act on his behalf and according to his best interests. The US activities of the News Corp. are bundled under the News America Holding Inc., whose management is officially independent. However, the fact is that the leadership of the News Corp. calls the shots, which is from where most of the managers are recruited.
On October the 9th of 2006, the Fox Broadcasting Company turned 20. It is synonymous with TV hits such as ‘24’ or ‘Dr.House’, which are sold worldwide. Furthermore, sporting 21 seasons, Fox hit series ‘The Simpsons’ became the all-time longest running television series in the history of US prime time television.
The unequivocally right-wing populist channel „Fox News Channel“, that launched in 1996 has been a great success for News Corp. as well. While traditional news channels such as CNN increasingly lost audience shares, Fox News managed to win over more and more viewers. At times, the channel generates higher revenues through advertising than MSNBC, CNN as well as all news formats by NBC, ABC and CBS combined.
In Summer 2009, statements by right-wing conservative commentator Glen Beck caused quite the uproar. He called US president Barack Obama a ‘racist’. Obama, according to Beck, apparently bears a ‘deep rooted hate of white people and white culture’. Rupert Murdoch, in an Exclusive-Interview for Sky News Australia, later defended this particular assessment. Subsequently, many companies made the decision not to book any more airtime for advertising during Glen Beck’s Show.
Occasionally, politicians defend themselves against the channel. In an Interview, Anita Dunna, former spokesperson of the White House, called Fox News the ‘communication outlet of the Republican Party’ that should be regarded as ‘enemy more than a neutral news channel’. Murdoch’s son in law, Matthew Freud, told the New York Times that even members of the family were ‘ashamed’ by Fox News.
In Autumn 2007, Fox Business Network, an offshoot channel solely dedicated to economy and finance went on air. It was supposed to benefit from the ‘Wall Street Journal’ brand, which Murdoch acquired a few years before and compete with CNBC, the existing market leader.
Production company Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation had produced classics such as ‘Star Wars’, ‘Die Hard’ or ‘Alien’ in the past. Unlike the prior year, 2009 was a quite successful one for the studio. First and foremost blockbuster film ‘Avatar’ was responsible for that circumstance. Despite being one of film history’s most expensive films, with a production budget of 300 million US Dollar, the 3D Film brought in a net profit of 400 million US Dollar, including DVD and BlueRay sales.
Just how big of an influence Murdoch is on his newspaper editors became apparent in early 2003. Back in the day, the second Gulf War was looming ahead. All of the 175 newspapers owned by Murdoch endorsed the invasion of the Iraq in their headlines, without exception.
Even the print division of News Corp. cannot evade the newspaper crisis completely though. The ‘New York Post’ for example is causing losses in the double-digit million range, year after year. Murdoch however is unwilling to sell or dissolve the newspaper, due to the fact that it is considered to be the company's most important political outlet, apart from news channel Fox News itself. In November 2009, former editor Sandra Guzman sued the newspaper. She was sacked after refusing to publish a Caricature, which depicted President Obama as a chimpanzee.
In 2007, the ‘Wall Street Journal’ came into Murdoch’s possession. Under his aegis, he successfully introduced a pay-wall for the access to the ‘journal’s’ website. By now, the online presence is registering more than a million paying subscribers. Critics on the other hand, such as ‘New York Times’ author David Carr, accuse Murdoch of turning the ‘journal’ into “a right-wing populist paper “, which focuses on political opinion making rather than on reports from the world of finance. Since summer 2010, the ‘journal’ directly attacks the ‘New York Times’ with its ‘Greater New York’ issue, not least Murdoch’s archenemy, the publisher Arthur Sulzberger.
Murdoch’s print division is also met with a lot of criticism in Great Britain: In 2007, a tapping scandal at a yellow press newspaper ermerged from the ‘News of the World’. The newspaper hired private detectives, who hacked into the mobile phones of British celebrities, in order to obtain private information. The journalist Clive Goodmann and a private detective even had to serve sentences; they had tapped into the Royal Family’s mailboxes. In 2011 the affair turned into a full-blown scandal, involving corrupt cops and government officials, when the "Guardian" reported that the phones of murder victim Milly Dowler as well as relatives of terror victims had been hacked.
In 1989, News Corp. acquired British traditional publisher Collins and merged it with Harper & Row. The resulting company, Harper Collins, counts more than 30 subsidiaries. They publish books such as ‘Going Rogue’, Sarah Palin’s autobiography.
Murdoch bundled many of his digital activities in 2005 under Fox Interactive Media. It paid 580 million US Dollar for the purchase of social community MySpace alone, which has been overtaken in popularity by Facebook since and was sold in 2011. On top of that, Fox Interactive bought video games website IGN Entertainment, the Lifestyle-Portal AskMen.com, College-Sport-Website scout.com, the Job-Portal Simplyhired.com, the IMDB-competitor „Rotten Tomatoes“, as well as picture sharing platform Photobucket. Rotten Tomatoes and Photobucket have already been given up again, due to the lack of success.
Moreover and together with Fox rival NBC, Murdoch’s online forge constructed TV streaming platform Hulu, which offers previously aired TV programs via streaming technology, partially financed by advertising and partially through subscriptions. As of today, the platform is considered a success, at least according to the reception it enjoys from Internet users. However, the platform has not been able to contribute to the refinancing of the expensive TV programs so far. As a result, some broadcasters removed their films and series from the platform again.
Furthermore, News Corp. has been supporting digital music start up Beyond Oblivion since April 2010. The young company is looking to establish a music portal that is going to transfer the copyright responsibility for the songs to the Internet providers, as a way to make it possible for Internet users to listen to music for free and -most importantly- on a legal basis.
» Arsenault, Amelia/Castells, Manuel 2008: Switching Power: Rupert Murdoch and the Global Business of Media Politics: A Sociological Analysis, in: International Sociology, July 2008, Vol. 23(4): S. 488–513.
» Barthel, Nadine 2008: Murdoch, Keith Rupert. In: Hachmeister, Lutz (Hrsg.): Grundlagen der Medienpolitik. DVA, München, S. 272-277.
» Chenoweth, Neil 2002: Rupert Murdoch: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Media Wizard, Crown Business, New York.
» Chenoweth, Neil 2012: Murdoch's Pirates: Before the Phone Hacking, There Was Rupert's pay-TV skullduggery, Allen & Unvwin, Sydney.
» Crainer, Stuart 2001: Big Shots. Business the Rupert Murdoch Way. Capstone, Mankato.
» Ellison, Sarah 2010: War At The Wall Street Journal. Inside The Struggle To Control an American Business Empire. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston.
» Folkenflik, David 2013: Murdoch's World. The Last of the Old Media Empires. Perseus Books, London.
» Page, Bruce 2004: The Murdoch Archipelago. Pocket Books, London.
» Shawcross, William 1997: Murdoch. The Making of a Media Empire. Simon & Schuster, New York.
» Sherman, Gabriel 2014: The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News--and Divided a Country. Random House, New York.
» Wolff, Michael 2008: The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch. Broadway, New York.
- Tim Arango (New York Times): James Murdoch - The Murdoch in Waiting (19.02.2011)
- Huffington Post: Fox News Wins the 2010 Election (4.11.2010)
- Der Spiegel: Neue "Times", neue Zeiten? (25.05.2010)
» “Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism” bei Google Video
the Open Society Foundations' Media Program,
Germany's Federal Agency for Civic Education,
the Rudolf Augstein Foundation,
the city of Cologne, Germany,
and the State of Thuringia, Department of Commerce.