Rupert Murdoch (born 11 March 1931) is a controversial multinational media mogul. The Australian-born Murdoch built an empire of newspapers and tabloids that spilled from Australia to England, on to the United States and beyond; expanding into television, films, the Internet, and most recently into the financial news market. News Corp., Murdoch’s holding company, has become synonymous with his name.
Young Rupert Murdoch attended Oxford University where he studied politics and economics while writing articles for student newspapers. With the death of his father he inherited a controlling share in News Limited of Adelaide, Australia, which published The News, a local newspaper.
In 1953 Rupert Murdoch left Oxford to become managing director of News Limited only to find his father had left many debts. After selling off several shares of various newspapers, Rupert Murdoch was back on his feet just three years later with successful ventures that included a weekly television magazine, called TV Week. The extra cash flow allowed Murdoch to borrow money to finance further ventures.
Acquiring more newspapers with circulations in greater parts of Australia, Murdoch also purchased The Daily Mirror, a Sydney-based tabloid. In 1964 Murdoch established Australia’s first national newspaper, The Australian, which he purportedly intended to use to gain political respect.
In 1968 Rupert Murdoch expanded into Britain, acquiring control of The News of the World, the most popular English-language newspaper of its time with an international circulation of over 6-million. Murdoch also bought The Sun, an upstart British magazine that he converted into a successful tabloid.
By 1973 Rupert Murdoch had his eye on the United States. Buying various newspapers and magazines, he founded the tabloid Star and in 1976 purchased The New York Post. Murdoch went so far as to became a citizen of the U.S. in 1985 in order to purchase the American television station FOX Network, a highly popular network among young viewers.
Following this success Murdoch launched The Fox News Channel in 1996, a 24-hour cable station designed to compete with CNN. In 2003 News Corp. bought a 34% share in Hughes Electronics, which owns DirecTV™, a leading satellite company. But Murdoch’s interest in television and satellite are not specific to the United States.
BskyB, the leading British satellite company, The National Geographic Channel, The History Channel, and Nickelodeon are all partially owned by Rupert Murdoch. Other television stations under News Corp.’s flag extend into Italy, New Zealand, Asia and other countries.
In 2005 Murdoch’s News Corp. purchased Intermix Media Incorporated, owner of the wildly popular online socializing hub, MySpace. Murdoch also acquired controlling interest of IGN Entertainment, a multimedia video-based company that owns websites like AskMen, GameSpy, and RottenTomatoes.
While no one argues the success of Rupert Murdoch, News Corp.-owned entities have come under scrutiny for espousing political views that appear overwhelmingly reflective of Murdoch’s own biases. In the United States, Murdoch’s adopted country, the mogul is an outspoken proponent of the Christian conservative viewpoint and the right-wing Republican Party. He publicly supported Ronald Reagan, Pat Robertson and most recently George W. Bush in both the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. Some believe news media outlets under Murdoch’s ownership are directed to promote a conservative agenda.
In a notable example during the Iraq war build-up in 2003, Australian magazine The Bulletin interviewed Murdoch. The interview revealed Murdoch to be strongly in support of the war, citing decreased oil prices as a primary reason; a position he also made public the previous week in an interview with America’s Fortune Magazine. In a striking coincidence, according to an article in Britain’s The Guardian published 17 February 2003, each one of News Corp.’s 175 newspapers worldwide also editorialized in favor of the Iraq war.
FOX News Network (FNN), the “fair and balanced” news station with the slogan, “we report, you decide” has also come under fire from critics who believe it has a neo-conservative, anti-liberal bent. Leaked memos of talking points that wrap bias with spin to tow a conservative party line have caused some critics to reclassify the station as opinion, while others view it as theater. Backlash extended to inspiring documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald to make, Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism, which includes interviews of past FOX employees and lays out what Greenwald and others believe to be proof of purposefully constructed bias in the network.
Amid journalistic concerns, Rupert Murdoch’s 2007 $5.6-billion US Dollar (USD) bid to acquire Dow Jones and one of the most well-respected newspaper in the country, The Wall Street Journal was met with much concern. But Murdoch appears unstoppable. According to FOX reports in early August 2007 the deal had been accepted and the News Corp. buyout will go forward. Dow Jones also owns many influential financial websites, including MarketWatch.
Rupert Murdoch has positioned himself to exercise astounding influence worldwide as his newspapers, magazines, television networks and websites reach into billions of households daily. With each additional acquisition questions arise as to the potential implications of this growing monopoly, and its impact on business, economics, politics, market competition and society.