ELISABETH MURDOCH’S attack on the values of News Corporation is part of a ”strategic” plan by the family to retain power over the $US55 billion media empire and was a ”significant Murdoch moment”, says a keen observer.
Ms Murdoch, the second-eldest of Rupert Murdoch’s six children, emphasised humanity over profit in a keynote address to the TV industry that is being widely read as her pitch to lead the family business.
In a speech that attacked free market capitalism and the idea that ”money is the only sorting mechanism”, Ms Murdoch, 44, outlined her vision for leadership.
Michael Wolff, the author of an authorised biography of Rupert, said the speech would have been written with the full support of her father and all but one of her siblings – James – who control the majority of voting stock in News Corp.
”Nobody in the Murdoch family does anything unilaterally. Clearly she has swayed the votes and they are supporting her,” said Wolff, journalist and author of The Man Who Owns the News.
In her MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh international TV festival on Thursday night, Ms Murdoch also appeared to criticise James, which will serve only to deepen the rift that opened up between them over the phone-hacking affair.
Ms Murdoch said News Corp had to ask ”significant and difficult questions about how some behaviours fell so far short of its values” following the scandal. She said the lesson from the affair was that any organisation needed to ”discuss, affirm and institutionalise a rigorous set of values based on an explicit statement of purpose” – in contrast to News Corp’s traditional mode of governance based on executives second-guessing what Rupert would do.
”Profit without purpose is a recipe for disaster,” she said, in a direct reference to a speech by James at the same industry gathering three years earlier in which he extolled the idea that profit was the only ”guarantor of independence”.
Wolff said that now James has been effectively sidelined in the company, the speech marked Ms Murdoch’s return to power, most likely as the head of the entertainment business once the organisation splits next year. Ms Murdoch rejoined the family business last year after she sold her TV production company Shine to News Corp for $440 million. Wolff also predicted Lachlan Murdoch would head publishing, as much of its operations are based in Australia.
Lachlan’s spokesman told the Herald last week his focus was on building up his own business, through his private investment vehicle Illyria. ”I think you will end up with two Murdochs heading up the two companies. This [speech] was a very significant Murdoch moment,” he said.
with Guardian News & Media
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