Rupert Murdoch (Doc Index)

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K. Rupert Murdoch This is a detailed history of the Australian Keith Rupert Murdoch and his media acquisitions. This timeline details the way he has manipulated and extended a family fortune of a couple of million dollars and a small media holding consisting of only a couple of small Adelaide newspapers, into a media empire that has made him the most powerful and ruthless media mogul in the world.

It also includes details of his involvement with a group of Australian executives who took control of Philip Morris and virtually controlled the global tobacco industry -- and the part he has played in the premature deaths of many thousands of smokers.

This has been carved from K. Rupert Murdoch 2011-08-15 and also uses the tobacco document archives.
Neil Chenoweth's superb book "Virtual Murdoch" is also a source.

Documents & Timeline

1931 Mar 11: Murdoch born.

1952: His father, Sir Keith Murdoch died in 1952 leaving a very complicated and convoluted will, with family companies and share holdings distributed through the family, but often not executable by the members (and with both voting (with 10x amplification) and normal shares). Murdoch returned to Australia: he was only 21. Many of the newspapers in the family business were sold.

1954: Murdoch took over the running of the Adelaide News in 1954 at 24 years of age. He also owned/controlled a second Adelaide paper.

1956: He married an airline hostess, Patricia Booker.

1959: Oldest daughter Prudence born

1960: Murdoch bought a network of 24 suburban newspapers in New South Wales as well as the Sydney Daily Mirror and the Truth in Melbourne and Brisbane.

1962: He bought a major shareholding in the Nine Network TV stations.

1964: Murdoch launched a national newspaper, The Australian . At the same time he began his international expansion, buying a network of newspapers in New Zealand (sold later to the rival Australian newspaper company, Fairfax Limited)

1966: Acrimonious divorce from Patricia.

1966 Apr: Married Anna Torv.

1968 Aug: His first child by Anna (Elizabeth) was born. His first daughter Prudence was then 9 years old, and she lived with Rupert and Anna in the Blues Point Towers overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge in New South Wales.

1968 Oct: Murdoch abruptly sold his apartment and moved the family to London. He was on a 'white-knight' mission to rescue the Carr family and fend off Robert Maxwell who had designs on their newspaper, the News of the World. He ended up controlling the paper with 49% of the voting stock. Sir William Carr was to be left in charge of the paper as Chairman.

1969 May E/ Sir William Carr was forced out.

1969 Nov: Took control of The Sun newspaper with only a one-tenth instalment payment of a mere £50,000 (total price £0.5 million). He took the newspaper down-market with topless page 3 girls, and earned himself the nickname "The Dirty Digger". However the circulation of 1 million this year began to rise.

1969 Xmas: There was a bungled kidnapping attempt of Anna and Elizabeth. The wife of a News International executive died. Not long after Anna in Rupert's Rolls Royce knocked down and killed a pedestrian. Anna showed signs of depression.

1971: The Sun, purchased only two years earlier, was now making more every few months that Murdoch had paid. It had doubled its circulation and in 1973 it had tripled.

1971 Sept 8: Lachlan, the heir apparent, was born.

1972 Dec 15: James was born.

1973: Murdoch was now the most powerful media baron in Britain. He lived in New York, and commuted to the UK, but for ownership reasons (An Australian government requirement for TV stations) his listed address was the family's Cruden cattle property near Canberra.

1973 Oct: His expansion into the US newspaper industry commenced with the $19 million purchase of two Texas newspapers, the San Antonio Express and the News. He soon had front pages with racy headlines like "Armies of Insects marching on SA" and his famous series on the threats from killer bees. These papers made $7 million a year in profit through the 1980's.

1974: Murdoch moved his family to New York. He also launched the National Star in the US as a rival to the National Enquirer. It was not successful.

1976: Murdoch bought the New York Post and relaunched the failed National Star as a woman's magazine called the Star (with a print run of 3 million). His global expansion continued with the purchase of the UK publications The Times and the London Sunday Times also in 1976.

1977: Chenoweth says that this year he was "still only a blip on American media radarscopes" -- but that "he took on every broadcasting group in America".

1978: Murdoch began planning a modern computerised printing works in England. He purchased the Wapping site.

1979 Jul: Despite living in America, the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal was told he was a citizen and resident of Australia (Cruden farm) and that he worked in America via a Green Card.

1980's: In the 1980’s Murdoch’s News Corporation moved into television news in the US forming the Fox Network, the purchase of 20th Century Fox.

1980-82: He acquired a majority holding in Satellite Television Plc, the owners of the Sky satellite. At much the same tme he took control over the Inter-American Satellite Television Network through Sky Band Inc.

1981 Jan 21: He purchased the great British 'flagship of the establishment' newspaper, the UK Times and its associate Sunday-Times. He now held about 30% of the major UK newspapers of record.
He now put the tabloid editor from the Sunday Telegraph, Harold Evans, in as editor ... then sacked him a year later.

1982 Dec: Murdoch bought the Boston Herald for $1 million up-front and $7 million out of future profits.

1983: Murdoch's famous battle with Ted Turner over getting a piece of the new Cable News Network (CNN). He now had three main operating corporations:

  • News Limited which was the Australian operating company.
  • News International which ran his Fleet Street newspapers
  • News America Holdings which had his US interests
In 1983 he was desperately looking for content to put on his satellite distribution system

1983 mid-year: Warners beat him to 'Show Time' which was then the second biggest cable channel.

1983 Nov: He bought the Chicago Sun-Times for $90 million.

1984 Jan: Ted Turner and Murdock talking about Cable Network News (CNN)

1984-87: Murdoch's finance director Richard Sarazen wrote up the value of News Ltd.'s mastheads by $1.5 billion to artificially boost the company assets and raise the amount that could be borrowed from the banks (never to exceed 110% of assets).

1984-85: Murdoch secretly rebuilding the Wapping site, Surrounded it with 12 foot walls and razor wire. Anticipated stoush with unions.

1985 most of year: Turner and Murdoch locked in a battle over American media. Murdoch survived against the odds.

1985 Jan: Murdoch goes seriously into debt buying Ziff Davis magazines for $350 million.

1985 Feb 10: Murdoch briefs his editors on the Wapping plant move.

Mar 10 The new terminal equipment is installed in Wapping, and a deal is finalised for the members of the electrical workers union to take over the roles of the previous unionised print workers.

1985 Sep: The presses are installed at Wapping and ready to roll. Murdoch gave the printing unions a deadline of three months to agree to the new conditions,

1985: News Corp. acquired Twentieth Century Fox.

1985 late: Murdoch was a director of Westmoreland Helicopters which Margaret Thatcher sold to the Americans. She was condemned for the unilateral action by Defence Minister Hazeltine who then led the attacks on Thatcher. Murdoch's Sun attacked Hazeltine until he was forced to resign.

1985 Sep 3: Murdoch sworn in as an American citizen. He had apparently bought Metromedia while not a US citizen, and from then on he called himself an "Amercan Australian".

1986 Jan 23: Deadline day. There were 24 riots; 10,000 protesters and 1,200 police. An Australian trucking company, TNT was hired to handle deliveries and it had 92 windscreens broken, two trucks set on fire, and 16 rammed - countless tires slashed and overall 84 suffered damage. TNT was paid $1 million a week. These problems went on for a year

1986 Mar 5:Despite the Wapping problems, Murdoch turned up with a large group of his corporate executives at the Philip Morris Corporate Affairs Conference (not a Board meeting). He was the guest speaker, and one of the Australian executives and speakers, now led by Bill Murray who was CEO/Chairman, and Andrew Whist the head of Corporate Affairs, and chief disinformation executive. Also speaking were Brian Simpson the head of the tobacco industry's international lobby operation in Brussels (INFOTAB) who is said to be related to Murdoch; and John Dollisson who headed the Tobacco Institute of Australia, and later joined PM as head of its Asian operations.

Murdoch's contingent consisted of the President of News America, the CEO of Twentieth Century Fox, the Publisher of the New York Post, and some other executives.

1986 Jan: In Australia, Prime Minister Bob Hawke (a union leader) granted him (via the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal) the right to control two television stations, provided he remained an Australian.

1986 Jan 24: Print workers vote to strike. They learn that many will be let go, and the others are to move to Wapping. They wanted $120 million compensation.
Unions were hidebound -- wouldn't allow journalists to type in copy. Had to be retyped by union members. Rejected modern computerised typesetting equipment.

1986 early: Murdoch ventures into a disastrous deal with Michael Milken's junk-bond arrangements -- $1.15 billion of Junk-bonds issued for the purchase of Metromedia was reclassified as "preferred stock".

1986 Murdoch and Barry Diller now own 75% of the voting shares of Twentieth Holding Corp, which held Metromedia. News Ltd held 99.9% of the non-voting stock, and Murdoch had a lien over Diller's shares.
Michael Milken and Murdoch now exposed News Ltd to a potential $3.6 blow - using junk bonds and leveraged buyouts Debt was manipulated to appear as assets allowing Murdoch to multiply (15 times) the bank lending limit.

1987 Oct 18-23 The great stock market crash. Murdoch had just joined the billionaires club, and had stayed in New York because of the annual Forbes 400 celebration party (with Donald Trump as one guest). But by the time Forbes magazine hit the newsstands, Murdoch was no longer a billionaire.

The first stock exchange to collapse was the Australian which traded the News Ltd shares. Bloodbath. Share price dropped from $A24.50 to $A8.50 and in a week Murdoch had personally lost $$US1.7 billion.

1988: Murdoch sold his New York Post, and bought Triangle Publications for $3 billion (over-priced?)

1988 Feb: Murdoch's executive Bruce Hundertmark and Michael Clinger persuaded Rupert to invest in the RSA encryption technology which proved to be a winner. They established News Datacom in Tel Aviv, London and Hastings with a tax-dodge holding company in Bermuda.

1988 June 8: Murdoch announced the launching of a new satellite TV service, Sky, using a new medium-power Luxembourg-based satellite system with 4 channels, which was to be ready in 8 months and use the existing PAL analogue television transmission system. This was in opposition to the UK government's plans to give an exclusive license to the British Satellite Broadcasting (BSB) system, announced in December 1986. BSB was planning to use a revolutionary new transmission technology called D-MAC which was till in development. The launch date of Sky was to be months before the BSB was ready.
Murdoch had lost £30 million in 5 years on this first Sky satellite venture when he abandoned the pay-to-view low-power European satellite he had bought in 1982 (which had virtually no viewer and no advertising). The plan was for the new Sky was for it to be free-to-air and supported by advertising revenues: it was to provide a beefed up Sky entertainment channel, a news channel, a new Eurosports channels plus a joint-venture Sky-Movies (with Disney) movie channel. It would cost householders £200 for a satellite dish.
However Hollywood refused to supply films unless Sky movies was a pay-channel, so he needed to scramble the signal (then people would pay to decode) He was committed to transmitting in the standard PAL television code, and no one had ever encrypted PAL signals. News Datacom, however, produced VideoCrypt which was fairly rudimentary scrambling system, but it also used a Smart Card. This proved to be quite revolutionary because they could upgrade the system just by producing card changes.

1989: He bought Harper Collins - one of the world's largest publishing companies and part of the "Big Five" English-language publishers, (Hachette, Holtzbrinck/Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster). The company is headquartered in New York City

1989 Feb: Launch of the new Sky satellite TV system. This followed a herculean effort by Hundertmark and Clinger in developing and manufacturing VideoCrypt and the necessary SmartCards and set-top boxes (they had technical problems for a year, but with the Smart Card system, upgrades were easy). However Disney had pulled out of the joint Sky-Movies venture at the last minute supposedly over Murdoch's use of topless girl photos when advertising Sky dishes in his newspapers. (Murdoch then sued Disney for $1.5 billion)

1989 Sep 14: Woodrow Wyatt notes in his journal for 14 September 1989:

Went to a party given by Ralph Harris (Lord Harris of High Cross). He is Chairman of IEA (the Institute of Economic Affairs). He instigated many of the policies Mrs Thatcher implemented.
Ralph Harris and his Director of IEA, John Wood, are approaching sixty-five. They thought they would give a party to celebrate their becoming pensionable. I said it wasn't very Thatcher-like to spend the proceeds of your pensions before you have got them.
Rupert was there. Geoffrey Howe was there.

1990's: In the 1990’s he moved into the development of satellite television in the UK and Asian markets.
This was the year of Murdoch's major debt crisis.

1990 Apr: Murdoch's rival BSB's Direct Broadcasting Satellite was finally launched. It was using the new D-MAC transmission technology and had problems with its encryption system.

1990 May: Hundertmark resigns from News Datacom and returns to Australia leaving Michael Clinger in charge. (He was being chased for a $810,600 debt by the US Securities and Exchange Commission - he was then indicted for insider trading by a New York grand jury) He had arrest warrants out and was an international fugitive.

1990 Jun: News Ltd. wrote off £235 million in losses on Sky, and then in the next four months it lost another £48 million. They also discovered that the SmartCard had problems that they wouldn't solve for a year.

1990 Sep 13: Sam Chisholm, the ex Chief of the National Nine network in Australia, arrived in London under contract to run the Sky satellite network.

1990 Sep: News Corp had now written off £ 283 million in losses on Sky (the total cost of Sky was now £ 550 million). News Corp was in a debt crisis; the banks were refusing to fund him further.

1990 Sept 27: Murdoch called Peter Davis of Reed, the main promoters behind BSB to propose that they discuss a merger. Murdoch now met with Peter Davis at Reed International who was in control of the BSB venture, and they discussed the possibilities of a merger. Reed International, along with its three other major shareholders. Pearson, Granada and Chargeurs had already put £ 850 million into their venture.:

Oct 4: Meeting held between Peter Davis of Reed and Rupert Murdoch. They then went into a 5 day round of negotiations

1990 Oct 14: Ian Irving of Reed International (representing the BSB shareholders) flew to Australia to meet Murdoch in secret to discuss a merger. Murdoch was on the verge of bankruptcy - but so was the BSB venture. After 5 days they agreed on a 50:50 joint venture with News Ltd running the operations, and no cash changing hands. They would dump the D-MAC system and stay with PAL

What BSB didn't realise was that Murdoch gained the upper hand because the encryption system with its Smart Card remained in the hands of News Ltd. w

1990 Oct 31: News Corporation faced a £ 500 million rollover of its loans, and nearly went broke. The BSB merger was finalised the following day, and Murdoch announced the new BSkyB even before the BSB board had met to approve the details. Sam Chisholm was to be in charge. He began sacking the old BSB staff (3,000 went in months). BSkyB wrote off #750 mllion in losses, but the shareholders were not told.

BSB had invested more than News, but their DMAC (Digital MAC) technology had more problems. They agreed to use the legacy PAL analog television system, and to handle the pay TV problem using VideoCrypt Smart Cards. However BSkyB would not own VideoCrypt (this turned out to be a mistake)

  • Following this deal BSB wrote off £750 million, but News Ltd didn't make any public announcement.

Oct 31: The roll-over of Murdoch £500 million loan fell due and Murdoch finalised the BSkyB merger 48 hours later.
  • Sam Chisholm was rushed in to become the new CEO of BSkyB which was losing around £1 million a week. He had the problem of halving administration, technical, uplink, and maintenance staff, etc. Ruthless sacking of 3,000 staff from the combined company in the first 8 months. He sacked most of BSB staff; renegotiated film screening contracts with 5 Hollywood studios (cut millions of dollars off their outlays).

1990 Nov 8: Michael Clinger had a warrant out for his arrest in the USA, but he was now running News Datacom Security Products (NDSP) in Israel (the company which controlled the Smart Cards needed to run movies over the satellite system). He had been charged by a US Grand Jury with 51 counts of insider trading and fraudulent accounts for past activities. He now had problems venturing out of Israel.

Also in November 1990 News Ltd's shareholders approved a preferential share issue (despite opposition from the Australian Mutual Provincial society) for a newly created class of stock designed to fund Muroch's grand ambitions in the communications and telecommunications business. These shares were not issued at this time because a debt crisis hit News Ltd.

1991: The Australian Government held an inquiry into Murdoch's pay companies. This was triggered by Neil Chenowith's exposes in the Australian Financial Review newspaper.

1991:Some time this year Murdoch quietly sold his Fifth Avenue, Manhattan penthouse apartment and shifted his base to Los Angeles.

1991 Apr: The BSkyB bankers were refusing to refinance the business unless the shareholders took some of the increased risk. The satellite system and Murdoch personally were in crisis again. Murdoch survived by having Cruden Investments (family company) borrow £22 million from WestPac Bank. They needed a guarantee that the SmartCard could be supplied as promised. (afraid that News Datacom could extort them)

May 11: The contract with BSkyB was modified to provide some guarantees. The plan had been to replace SmartCard every 3 months to block hacking. Because of the deal with News Datacom, BSkyB got them at less than cost price, which reduced profits paid to technical innovators in the company. There was also a problem with manufacturing faults: 12% of the cards didn't work.
  • The payment channels were also convoluted, set up to save tax: BSkyB in Britain paid a company called BK in California, which paid Phoenix in Jersey, which channeled the money through an archipelago of tax havens to News DataCom in Israel. It was later discovered the Clinger was ripping off the system via a secret mark-up deal with BK.

1991 Aug:News Corp was now being held to ransom by Michael Clinger and News Datacom Security Products (NDSP) in Israel, even though they owned a large share of the company already (special rights held by the inventors). Without the SmartCards they didn't have a viable satellite system.

Sept 27: News Ltd offered to buy then out for $6 million + some future payments.
Nov 6: News lifted its offer to $12 million provided Clinger left the company immediately, but he held shares in an IDG holding company. Clinger's two main partners Professsor Sharmir (the 'S' in RSA) and the Weizmann Institute agreed, Clinger held out for a couple of days, then left on Nov 8th. Because of the undercutting of price, the company NDSP was technically insolvent.

1992 Jan: Because of insolvency, News Corp now offered only $10 million

1992 Mar 9: BSkyB broke even for the first time. Its customer numbers were increasing.

May 18: BSkyB won the TV rights to the British "Premium League" (soccer). In the following week they signed up a million new customers.

1992 May: News Ltd sold the Israel SmartCard company NDSP to an offshore UK company News Datacom Ltd for $43.2 million (Four years later thay floated it for $750 million, and four years after that it had a share value of $5 billion)

1992: Murdoch took total control of the family company. Before this time he had managed the company on behalf of the whole family; now he bought them out.

1992 Jun: News Corrp became aware that Michael Clinger and his cohorts were criminals. His friend Leo Krieger was in control of the financial exchanges.

1993 Murdoch made some overpriced television purchases which brought the News Corp share prices down - He had paid $2.2 bn for US football broadcast rights. News also had the development costs of pan-Asian Star TV. He predicted that Star (owned 63.6% by News) would double its home coverage in the next 18 months (from 42 to 90 million)

October: Murdoch tries a second time to raise money for expansion into telecommunications. He proposes super-voting shares to allow himself the scope to pursue media alliances without diluting the Murdoch family's 32% stake in News Ltd. There is an outcry about concerns that this will entrench control in the Murdoch family and damage the 'one share, one vote' principle.

November: the Australian Stock Exchange received submissions opposing the News Corp plan. Murdoch watered down the proposal, but this didn't appease his opponents.

December: Murdoch stated publicly that he was withdrawing the plans.

1994 Feb The Australian Stock Exchange finally killed his idea of super shares by stating that it won't amend stock exchange listing rules.

Sept The end of the financial year. The Murdoch family wealth had slipped by about a billion dollars (from $A6.3 bn down to $A4.9bn) following deflated News Corp share prices. Murdoch picked up a personal salary of almost $6 million. The top 6 executives in the media empire were paid a total of $14.6 million with more than a third going to Murdoch also as CEO on top of his pay of $A5.9 m. Ken Cowley, Chief Executive of Australia got $A1.16 m and also held option over 125,000 new shares (now holding 700,000 shares). Anna Murdoch, a non-executive director of New Corp, doubled her option quota this year to 16,000. Kayarem bought dividend reinvestment shares and Cruden sold shares taking them down from 581 million to 576 million (at about $A8 each)

October: Murdoch revives limited voting preference share plan. Investors immediately carve off $A1.3 billion in value from News Corp because of the uncertainty of pricing on this issue. The ASX agrees to give preferences a three-month trial trading period for inclusion in its index.

Oct 19 Murdoch said that the float of BSkyB and reduction in News Ltd shareholding from 50 to 40% would generate $1.35 bn. BSkyB, which had formerly been a basket case,was now paying big dividends and also repaying its loans. Loans were expected to be full paid back by Jan 1995 at the latest. However he had abandoned the partnership deal with Australian Telecom in satellite pay TV.

He put the valuation of the entire News Corp business at about £5 billion (A$10.9 billion). However Star TV was losing $US12-14 million a year (News Ltd. owned 64%): it had a reach of 53.7 million homes in Aisa and Middle Eat and expected to reach 90 million by 1996. Fox Broadcasting was losing $US100 million.

November Murdoch announce plans for next phase of his plans to take News Corp into a major expansion with successful day of trading in the newly created class of preferred stock (with limited voting rights)designed to fund his grand ambitions by raising $A5 billion. His family control of 32.5% would not be diluted. The old pay TV partners group of Kerry Packer-Murdoch-Australian Telecom have been dismantled.

Nov 19 Major dispute. The Adelaide newspapers were putting employed workers onto individual contracts.: News Ltd in Adelaide had locked out its journalists, and print workers had staged an occupation of the second-floor composing room and blocked access to the typesetting equipment. Like a sege. The police wer called in and private security men were reinforced. Violence threatened. News Ltd workers in orther cities went out in sympathy.. The management used decoys and runners to get the compositing done at another newspaper in the early hours of the morning. They got the paper out

1996 Jan: Murdoch announced that he would be creating a 24-hour news channel, Fox News, to compete against Ted Turner's "left-wing biased" CNN. Roger Ailes was hired to run the channel. Turner said "I'm looking forward to squishing Rupert like a bug." The Turner-Murdoch personal animosity continued for many years.

1996 March 15: Murdoch's lawyers won back for him control over the New York Post. It had been controlled by the Mafia for some years, and there were 99 legal indictments against employees - loan sharking, extortion, gun running.. In April 1991 the owner had gone broke, but the Post just survived - losing $300,000 a week. It was then the subject of a major Ponzi scheme and the SEC froze its assets. Murdoch stepped in to take back control.

The New York Governor Mario Cuomo and his friend, Senator Alfonse D'Amato, had intervened with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to vary the cross-ownership rules and allow him to buy the Post and keep his New York Television station. It took six months to settle the legal mess.

1996 July: At Herb Allen's Sun Valley executives conference Murdoch met with Gerry Levin of Time-Warner and struck up a preliminary deal for Time-Warner to fun some of its cable channels over BSkyB satellite service in Britain in exchange for Murdoch running his new Fox News cable channel on Time Warner's cable networks (particularly New York)

1996 Sep - Oct: Murdoch meets with Gerry Levin of Time Warner - then the biggest media group in the world. He is told that Time Warner didn't have space to run his channels on its cable network. This left Murdoch about to launch a $300+ million Fox News venture and without the major cable network he was banking on. It would only have 11 million subscribers. Murdoch believed he'd been shafted by Ted Turner.

  • Mayor Rudy Guiliani now jumped in to help Murdoch by threatening not to renew the new Time-Warner/Turner Broadcasting's cable franchise for Manhattan. Governor Pataki of New York State also joined the Murdoch camp.
Oct 7 Fox News was launched without the Time Warner cable service, but with a collection of smaller cable services.

1997: A deal between Murdoch and Charlie Ergen, the CEO of Echostar had collapsed.

2000 Jan: Murdoch begins his attempts to make Sky Global Network into a satellite and pay-TV platform. He faced problems when the high-tech boom ended and Wall Street dropped interest. His shareholders and bankers were worried he might not survive.

2000: Murdoch diagnosed with prostate cancer. Family pressures caused his daughter Elizabeth to resign from BSkyB. The family succession agreements/disputes were threatened by the General Motors deal.

News Corporation is now a conglomerate of 800 companies in 50 countries with a net work of about $5 billion

2001: Jack Smith, the chief executive of General Motors and Rupert Murdoch are discussing a $110 million merger deal over their media assets - and carefully orchestrating media leaks to boost the share values of each. This coup would elevate Murdoch to the position of the world's leading media player. It would also help rescue GM from the weight of a $38 billion unfunded pension scheme.

Hughes DirectTV operation was losing $550 million a year. Murdoch's Sky about an equal amount.

Murdoch's most dangerous rival was also his partner in this, John Malone of Liberty Media.

2001 Feb 6: Murdoch addressed the GM Board to buy its technology arm Hughes Electronics which was the major satellite broadcaster in the USA. DirectTV had 9.5 million subscribers. But Murdoch was offering a convoluted buy-out/merger deal involving $70 billion.

  1. GM was to spin-off Hughes as a separate listed company.
  2. Murdoch would sell his Sky Global Networks to Hughes in exchange for Hughes shares
  3. John Malone would kick in $1 billion in cash.
  4. Bill Gates from Microsoft would put in $4 billion cash for a small stake
  5. Some assets would be sold off.

if it all worked:

  • General Motors would have a pile of cash
  • Murdoch would control the new Sky-Direct TV with 35% of its stock.
  • The overall value of the company would be in the vicinity of $110 million and have global reach.
  • This deal would make Murdoch a serious global rival to AOL-Time Warner.

2001 Feb 20: The deal began to unravel. GM wanted to cut Murdoch's control back to 30%.

2001 Mar: Murdoch is also dealing again with Charlie Ergen the CEO of America's second biggest satellite operator, Echostar.

2001 Dec 22: News Corporation finalised a $US6 billion bid to take a controlling stake in Hughes Electronics (owned by General Motors) and its US pay TV operation, DirecTV. "Now, with the addition of DirecTV, Murdoch has the last piece in a global distribution system that is unparalleled - and he will be rolling out a swag of new channels to run on that system. If you are a content company like Viacom, Disney or Time Warner, at some point in the future you will depend upon Murdoch to run your programs around the world," Neil Chenoweth and Sean Aylmer wrote. [1]

While Murdoch was negotiating the deal, US investor John Malone's Liberty Media Corporation began selling its non-voting shares in News Corporation and buying voting shares. By early January, Liberty had acquired a 9.15% share in the company’s voting shares while Murdoch holds 29.8 per cent of the voting stock. Writing in the Australian Financial Review, Neil Chenoweth and Sean Aylmer commented that "the move cements Mr Malone's key position at News as the man who can confirm or deny Mr Murdoch's plan eventually to pass control of the media group to one of his sons, Lachlan or James." [1]

2002: News Corporation revenues was about $17 billion. cites comments by Murdoch explaining the rationale for the development of News Corporation in a June 2002 interview with a Financial Times journalist: "We start with the written word. Then we get to TV, originally with the idea that it will protect the advertising base and it then progresses into a medium of its own with news, programmes and ideas. You then look at TV and you say: 'Look, we don't want to just buy programmes from a Hollywood studio, we'd better have one.' Then comes the issue of people who are going to deliver your programmes. Cable is consolidating ... Instead of having 20 gatekeepers, you are going to have three or four. For content providers, that is very bad news. So, you try to protect yourself in having some distribution power." [2]

2005 Mar Neil Chenoweth reported in the Australian Financial Review that Rupert Murdoch

... "sidestepped stamp duty of $A53 million [U.S.$41.3m] and capital gains tax of up to $A1.2 billion [U.S.$936m] by moving control of his ultimate family company, Kayarem, to the Caribbean and listing it on the Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSE) a week before News Corporation was reincorporated in the United States last November. Documents filed with the BSE show that listing Kayarem in the tax haven allowed the Murdoch family to obtain a tax benefit when it sold its controlling interest in the Queensland Press group to News Corp." [2]

2007: He bought the Wall Street Journal from Dow.

2011 July: Allegations that his companies and the News of the World regularly hacked phones of celebrities, royalty and public citizens.

2012 (Apr)-Dec 2013: The US Department of Justice naming Apple and (Murdoch's) HarperCollins, and four other major publishers as defendants in United States v. Apple Inc., alleging that they conspired to fix prices for e-books, and weaken's position in the market. A federal judge approved a settlement of the antitrust claims in December 2013. HarperCollins and the other publishers paid into a fund that provided credits to customers who had overpaid for books due to the price-fixing.

2012 July 21: Murdoch resigned as director of News International. (not the main company). He was beginning to hand over his companies to the children.

2015 July 2: Murdoch left his post as CEO of 21st Century Fox.

2013 Jun 28; The Murdoch conglomerate was split into News Corporation and 21st Century Fox (Note: 21st not 20th)

SourceWatch resources

External resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Neil Chenoweth and Sean Aylmer, "Malone, Murdoch's new best friend", Australian Financial Review, January 27, 2004. (Not available online)
  2. ("a media industry resource")"Murdoch & News",, April 2007, revisited August 17, 2011