End Of An Era As Murdoch Hands Reins To Son

The challenge here is to not make this TV Blog read like an obituary of Rupert Murdoch, since he is still very much alive.

But the news on Thursday that Murdoch, 92, is stepping aside as chairman of the companies he founded presents an irresistible temptation to go over his career to look again at the impact he has made in the media where he made his name -- print and television, and within them, news and opinion.

Indeed, the very fact that he waited until age 92 to turn over the reins to his 52-year-old eldest son, Lachlan, is as good a symbol as any of the man's tenacity.

He has been in this business at least since 1952, when his father died, and the son inherited a single newspaper in Adelaide, Australia.

From there, he launched a lifelong campaign to conquer the media world. He bought more papers in Australia, then moved to London to elbow his way into Britain's notorious newspaper scrum, and then to New York to establish a tabloid beachhead in the United States.



He then set his sights on television -- buying 20th-Century Fox, then buying Metromedia's major-market TV stations, which he then used as a platform to launch the Fox TV Network.

In 1993, when he wrested an NFC rights package from CBS for his new network, the Fox network future was made.

Then it was on to cable news. And we all know how that turned out.

As he had already done with his newspaper properties, Murdoch saw an opportunity for attracting viewers with conservative content that would tap into a huge audience that he believed was then underserved -- or not served at all -- other than on AM radio, which may have inspired him.

All along, he used his media properties to project political power. Among other milestones, he used his connections with state and national politicians to save The New York Post when it was on the brink of shutting down in 1993.

He had owned the paper once before, and when he returned to the newsroom as its savior, he was portrayed as a new MacArthur returning to the Philippines.

The stops he made from Adelaide to Hollywood in his quest to grow his company and their influence all shared the same characteristic.

He has long had a knack for identifying areas of media where he felt he could zig while the others zagged.

Start a new TV network? Can't do that, others said -- the three networks are too powerful. He did it anyway.

Start a news network from scratch based on conservative points of view and expect to make money? His answer was yes.

All through the history of Rupert Murdoch's relentless acquisitions runs a thread of remarkable foresight, even genius.

And now, here comes the son. Will he be as adept as his father at identifying where the next opportunities in media will come from? Will he pony up the money and take the same chances?

Rupert Murdoch ceding control of Fox Corp. and News Corp. to his son symbolizes what's going on now in the TV business -- a new content-distribution system is supplanting the old one where Rupert Murdoch became so successful. He is 92, and the new world belongs to the 52-year-olds.

1 comment about "End Of An Era As Murdoch Hands Reins To Son".
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  1. Ben B from Retired, September 22, 2023 at 7:36 p.m.

    Rupert created a media empire with Fox and did a great job doing it with Fox being a Big 4 when it was only 3 players in the 80s and getting the NFL NFC package in 93 put it on the map. All the best Ripert enjoy retirement.

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