For Rupert Murdoch, It's Flush And Repeat: A Bird In The Hand

"Turd bird," anyone? One major media company may be using this unfortunate name to attract buyers to a key asset.

That's how Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp. which owns 38 percent of DirecTV, described DirecTV on CNBC.

Honest to a fault. DirecTV and its main competitor, Echostar's Dish Network, once the darlings of the anti-cable movement, have seen business slow down tremendously due to cable operators' successful expansion of digital programming products--as well as telephony and Internet products.

Murdoch may have a point; DirecTV is a wounded pigeon. But perhaps that blunt talk isn't really the way to unload a clipped-wing asset.

Buying DirecTV may look like a rare misstep by Murdoch--especially in light of the MySpace deal, a modest acquisition at the time of its purchase, which is now rocketing to surprising business heights. Even Murdoch has been caught off guard by MySpace's sudden cultural rise to stardom.



In the age of Sarbanes-Oxley, Murdoch might have just been covering his bases--and those bases of Wall Street analysts that cover News Corp. "Turd bird" doesn't leave any room for the imagination; there is no secondary explanation needed.

Murdoch perhaps meant "dump the dish"--which is more appropriate and safe for family viewing. Better that DirecTV employees walk around with T-shirts emblazoned with a "dump the dish" graphic.

So who might come to the rescue? None other than Murdoch's old nemesis--and sometime-friend--John Malone, who controls Liberty Media. Malone owns too much News Corp. stock for Murdoch's liking. He'd like to get it back--in exchange for some cash and assets, including DirecTV.

The irony, of course, is that Malone was one of the instrumental players in building the cable business in the '80s and '90s--the business that initially took it on the chin from satellite upstarts such as DirecTV.

What will he do with it? First thing--put DirecTV in the bird bath.

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