Rupert Murdoch built his vast fortune selling newspapers, expanding a single daily in his native Australia into a media and entertainment empire that spans the globe.
News Corp has now abandoned its bid for BSkyB which will be seen by many as a victory, albeit a late one, for those who rallied against any increase in his power and influence over the British political system. However as the Guardian argues the main protagonists in the phone-hacking affair still have questions to answer.
Why did James Murdoch authorise payments of £1m to phone-hacking victims in 2008? How is it that as editor Rebekah Brooks had no knowledge of the illegal activities in her newsroom? Tom Crone as legal adviser gave the green light to many explosive stories, how did he not question their source? Did Andy Coulson authorise illegal payments to royal protection officers for information? WHy didn't Colin Myler examine all the evidence himself when leading the investigation? How did Lee Hinton, Chairman of News International at the time of the hacking, not have any knowledge of wrong doing?
Rupert Murdoch is probably the most successful media proprietor and operator in history. There is no possible argument about his boldness, vision and skill of execution in conquering the British tabloid market, leading vertical media integration by uniting film studios and television stations, cracking the US television triopoly, being one of the great pioneers of satellite television and founding a conservative-populist American news network.
Even now when the entire political establishment which has turned on the man it once courted he has the sense of a man in control. It is clear that even on the defensive Murdoch can steal thunder. Three times in the last week Murdoch made bold political and commercial moves that set the news agenda and put politicians on the back foot. Facing his biggest test yet, Murdoch may have to do without the friendship and support of politicians, who are queuing up to scorn his company and its news gathering techniques.
With his newspapers under growing scrutiny, financial and media analysts are speculating about whether Murdoch might be compelled to cut them loose in order to protect his other, more lucrative interests such as Fox Television and 20th Century Fox.
News Corp. makes around three-fourths of its profits from its American cable television networks and movie businesses and newspapers contribute little to the bottom line. If push comes to shove the entertainment businesses are much more important to the company these days. Although the news organisations in the UK have put a black eye on the company it doesn't really impact how these other businesses are run and how profitable they are. Media analyst and Murdoch critic Jeff Jarvis said the 80-year-old News Corp. chief executive's passion for newspapers is well known but "the question is, what's more valuable to the Murdoch clan: power or money?"
I'd follow the money every time, so I wonder whether News Corporation will have to get out of the news business to save the profitable business of News Corporation.