Profile of Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch is by any description one of the world’s most prominent business giants of the modern commercial world. As head of News Corporation he can be rightly classified as a true entrepreneur but some commentators of gone further from such ‘pleasantries’ and referred to him as a corporate tyrant. It is important to understand what he has achieved and how he has developed his media empire. The 20th century saw many ‘media moguls’ and Murdoch with a personal fortune in excess of £5 billion, is up their with the rest. They have been elevated to pinnacles of power and celebrity. The News Corporation is divided into five key operating divisions; Filmed Entertainment, Television, Magazines and Inserts, Newspapers and Book Publishing and includes many well-known corporate such as ABC Television, Asian-based Star Television, 20th Century Fox, The Times in London and New York Post. The combined group reported sales revenues in excess of $21 billion during 1999. From his early days at Oxford University back in the 1950’s Murdoch’s character is one that has opted for a role of dominance in his chosen commercial field of media and broadcasting. In terms of his influence, it is all encompassing and transcends from both a high level strategic overview to a flag-waving public face of his New Corporation empire. Murdoch takes the role of Chairman and Chief Executive, backed Peter Chernin as President and Chief Operating Officer; one must question the distinct difference in these roles from a corporate governance situation. Murdoch lives and breathes for the success of the organisation. He once commented, “for better or for worse, our company is a reflection of my thinking, my character, my values.”(FT, 2000). They describe themselves in the Annual Report as “the only vertically integrated Media Company on a global scale” and as they now reach 2/3rds of the World’s population through all mediums this is not a corporate oversell. The first illustration of his entrepreneurial spirit is in the structure and ownership of the News Corporation organisation. The company is managed by a 21-strong Executive Committee, which includes his two sons, James and Lachlan and his Daughter, Elisabeth. The Executive Committee lists strategic direction as one of its primary focuses. The Executive Committee …"reviews and sets the strategic focus and direction of all major businesses of the company" (News Corporation, 1999). The Murdoch family directly controls some 30% of the company’s stocks. Does he interfere?
Andrew Neil, former editor of The Sunday Times, is well known for commenting that Murdoch had a seemingly unhealthy influence on the direction and editorial content of his newspapers. Murdoch himself says “I try to keep in touch with the details…I look at the product daily. That doesn’t mean you interfere, but it’s important occasionally to show the ability to be involved. It shows you understand what’s happening”. Image
In the main foyer of New’s offices in London there is a 20ft high painting of Murdoch, towering over the entranceway. His office within the Daily Mirror is reported to be “very large and timber lined” by Keith Bashford, former New International journalist. Bashford had ‘crossed’ Murdoch over an editorial piece to which Murdoch responded to with a “hurricane that filled my ears and my brain. His attack had an operatic quality that I almost admired. Perhaps most bizarrely as I withstood this violent assault, I also detected a note of impartiality in his voice.” Michael Leapman entitled his 1984 biography of Murdoch the “Arrogant Aussie” and this style appears as a theme throughout his approach to life and commercialism. This ‘larger than life’ personality is prominent in many ways, although it is acknowledged that he is actually a fairly introverted character on the public stage and doesn’t like celebrity for celebrity’s sake. His focus in on development of his business interests rather than...
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