This article was updated on 26th January 2021 to include information about the Murdoch family’s interests, alongside Rupert Murdoch’s immediate empire.
Rupert Murdoch is well-known for the immense role he plays in global media. His vast empire includes different media corporations and affiliates, and only continues to expand in an exponential fashion. This unprecedented growth and control have led many to wonder just how far his reach really extends.
Rupert Murdoch generated an incredible amount of revenue after selling his shares of 21st Century Fox to Disney, when the two companies decided to merge over the last year. More precisely, Murdoch generated billions of dollars, when Disney purchased 21st Century Fox, signaling an alarm to those already concerned about ethical and moral violations when individuals are involved in the ownership and control of extensive media corporations.
It was after this moment that concern over the extent of Rupert Murdoch’s media monopoly began to grow, the sale sparking conversation about what he owns, and what his involvement is in global media. Here, this article will discuss Murdoch’s acquisitions that span several geographical locations, including the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States, and several other surprising locations.
Murdoch’s Influence in the United Kingdom
Rupert Murdoch has been the architect of headlines across the pond, and at home, where he owns newspaper companies in the United Kingdom including The Sun and the News of the World tabloids. One of these companies, News of the World, was involved in a phone-hacking scandal, eventually leading to the company’s closure in the year 2011. It was this action that garnered national attention and began to raise the pertinent question of the true ownership of Britain’s newspapers.
Rupert Murdoch acquired The Sun from the International Publishing Corporation in the year 1969. At that time, the news company eagerly accepted Murdoch’s offer. This was in large part due to Murdoch’s appeasement of the previous owners, assuring them he would continue to maintain a “straightforward, honest newspaper” that would continue support for the Labour party. However, after his acquisition, the political tone of the outlet switched.
While the newspaper had been an avid supporter of Labour politicians and governments, and continued to be so for the next decade or so, this support eventually began to wane. Instead, a new consensus arose to support Margaret Thatcher. By the 1979 general election, the paper was urging its readers to ‘Vote Tory this time’, and indeed many of them did, and Thatcher was victorious.
Murdoch’s media acquisitions didn’t stop there. Instead, Rupert Murdoch included the Times and The Sunday Times in his list of purchases. It is also hard to overlook the fact that 21st Century Fox, who sold to Disney, was the owner of a significant portion of shares in Sky News UK. It was in the year 2018 that Rupert Murdoch sold the company to Comcast. He also purchased the Wireless group, which is connected to multiple radio stations. Stations including talkSPORT, a popular sports news channel, were established under new ownership in the year 2016.
Murdoch’s Reach into National Affairs
Murdoch is as involved in national affairs as he is international. Rupert Murdoch made New York his home in the 1970s, purchasing additional media companies to add to his fast-growing media empire. For example, he purchased the New York Post and New York Magazine. These acquisitions took place in the 1980s and to this day he still owns the New York Post. It was in the year 1985 that Murdoch acquired a controlling stake in the company 20th Century Fox, and in doing so, forever altered television media. It was in this very same year that he renounced his Australian citizenship. However, he only did so in order to maintain his position of owning American television stations without a conflict of interest.
Rupert Murdoch is even behind the venerable Fox News, which he launched in the year 1996 with Roger Ailes. He also controls The Wall Street Journal, one of the most famous American newspapers today. The acquisition took place through News Corp. in the year 2007 for a whopping total of 5 billion dollars. Previously, The Wall Street Journal had rested in the Bancroft family’s hands for over a century.
A Native Presence
Rupert Murdoch’s acquisition of newspapers started when he was only 22 years old. Specifically, he inherited the Adelaide News, a regional newspaper, from his father. It was under Murdoch’s leadership that the paper began to blossom, as it covered incredible scandals of much interest to the public.
Over time, Rupert Murdoch added to his collection by purchasing additional newspapers across Australia. His acquisitions grew to the point where he dominated approximately two thirds of the Australian media. He even founded The Australian in the year of 1964, which was in fact the first national newspaper of the country.
Murdoch has many Australian acquisitions, including popular magazines like GQ Australia and Sky News Australia, which was purchased in the year 2016 by News Corp. Australia. More soberingly, it is News Corp Australia that in turn owns over 140 Australian newspapers. It is considered the largest media company in the country.
Despite renouncing his Australian citizenship, Rupert Murdoch still owns many of these newspapers. He has even used News Corp. to acquire additional Australian suburban community papers. The papers he has purchased belong to a rather large media affiliation, and in turn, Murdoch’s News Corp. owns that affiliation. One specific example of this is found in Melbourne’s Leader Community Newspapers. It is responsible for 33 suburban papers, and it is Murdoch’s News Corp that owns Melbourne’s Leader Community Newspapers, making all 33 of those really in the hands of Rupert Murdoch.
A Media Monopoly
Rupert Murdoch’s reach into media exists on a global scale. For example, he owns a controlling share — sixty percent — of the Papua New Guinea Post Courier. It is this paper that served as the first national paper of the country since News Corp Australia acquired the two previously dominant papers, merging them into one.
Rupert Murdoch also decided to spend 525 million dollars on purchasing Star India in the year 1992. Though this purchase may seem a bit peculiar to some individuals, it is not surprising since nearly a billion people reside in India. While his acquisitions usually were concentrated in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, this purchase helped cement his media monopoly.
Recently, in the year 2019, Murdoch’s net worth was determined to be at least 19 billion dollars. This positions him as a powerful and influential individual with large stakes in global media. Since media is an important part of every society, this position has been of concern to some individuals and has raised moral and ethical questions.
The global media conquests are far from over for Rupert Murdoch. For example, Murdoch’s next project is to unveil a streaming platform for News UK TV. The billionaire is seeking an aggressive approach in order to fill what he perceives as a gap in news reporting overseas. Specifically, he has chosen a previous Fox News executive, David Rhodes, to join his team. News UK TV will be available on smart TVs and other online platforms, seeking to attract a younger audience. The platform would differ in that it would seek to raise revenue from advertising in a digital, rather than more traditional, way.
Concerns over the political nature of the future broadcasts involving Rhodes have already been raised by many. However, in the past his official line has been that he welcomes the Labour party as well as the Conservatives. The main aim is to provide an alternative news outlet to BBC, the long-standing British broadcast company, and to target a younger audience. However, Rupert Murdoch is not the only one who has had a similar idea. In fact, Murdoch is competing against GB News for the market. GB News is in fact funded by John Malone, another billionaire that has profited through media investments and acquisitions.
The Fate of Murdoch’s Dominion
Since Rupert Murdoch is only one person, some have wondered what the fate of his media dominion will be in the future. His son, James Murdoch, has a net worth of approximately 2 billion dollars. He has maintained a position on the board of directors at the behest of multiple companies controlled by his father. These have included Sky Italia and News International.
Despite this, James Murdoch’s direct involvement is not entirely clear. For example, he resigned from the board of directors of his father’s company, News Corp., in the year 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. He wrote a letter accompanying his resignation expressing his disagreement with some decisions and editorial content released by the company. Therefore, determining his exact position is a bit difficult.
Rupert Murdoch’s other son, Lachlan Murdoch, is hence put in the prime position to inherit his father’s estate. Though at one time Lachlan had distanced himself from his family, he has not only returned, but has begun to climb the ranks. He served as co-chairman of 21st Century Fox from the year 2014 to the year 2019. This was before the sale to Disney that generated billions of dollars. After this, Lachlan rose to Chairman and CEO of Fox Corporation. At the moment, he seems to be poised in the perfect position for the final showdown between him and his brother, James, to take control of the Murdoch empire. However, the results wait to be seen, since the brothers have repeatedly overtaken each other in the past.