Photo: News Corp.
Rupert Murdoch turns 80 today.With the $57 billion News Corporation under his belt, a prestigious ranking among Forbes’s wealthiest billionaires in the world, and a pending deal that would allow him to take over [BSkyB], it’s really not such a bad way to turn 80.
So, a happy, hearty birthday to you, Rupert Murdoch.
Now let’s take a look at how he got here.
Murdoch was born into the media industry. The son of a famous Australian war correspondent and publisher, he took over his inheritance, the Adelaide News, and the Sunday Mail, after his father passed away in 1952. During an earlier editorial stint at London's Daily Express, Murdoch first got his taste for sensationalist journalism, one that was based on sex, crime, and scandal.
The business-hungry Murdoch went on a media buyout binge, acquiring regional newspapers, a tabloid, and even a small recording company. In 1964, Murdoch launched The Australian, Australia's first national daily newspaper, to build up his journalistic respectability and political influence.
His first international deal involved the purchase of a controlling interest in New Zealand's The Dominion in 1964.
Murdoch acquired his first British newspaper, the London-based News of the World, in 1968. By then, he had come up with a surefire way for boosting circulation: stories seeped in sex, scandal, crime, and sports. The Sun, a London daily that he acquired in 1969, became the highest selling daily newspaper in the U.K.
In 1980, he created News Corporation, and in the following year, he came to acquire The Times and The Sunday Times.
In this photo, Rupert Murdoch stands among the new board members of the London Times on Feb. 12, 1981.
With the profits from his U.K. ventures, Murdoch made his first U.S. acquisition in 1973, with the purchase of the San Antonio News, which he converted into a successful sex-and-scandal sheet. In 1976, he purchased the New York Post.
Murdoch became a naturalized U.S. citizen in New York City in 1985. Shortly thereafter, he began his foray into film and TV with his purchase of the 20th Century Fox movie studio and a group of independent TV stations. He consolidated these ventures and launched his new FOX Broadcasting Company in 1986.
Meanwhile, across the pond, he launched Sky TV, a satellite television service, which he merged with British Satellite Broadcasting on a 50-50 basis, to form British Sky Broadcasting.
By 1991, his Australian-based News Corp. had worked up huge debts (much from Sky TV in the UK), forcing Murdoch to sell many of the American magazine interests he had acquired in the mid-1980s, including the Chicago Sun-Times, the New York Village Voice, and New York Magazine.
In this photo, New York Post executives gather in the editor's office on Oct. 4, 1978 to discuss post-strike publication, due to start the next day. Murdoch stands at left.
Murdoch's New York Post mastered the art of headlines, including the now legendary 'Headless Body in Topless Bar,
With a nose for new technology, in 1986, Rupert Murdoch introduced electronic production processes to his newspapers in Australia, Britain, and the U.S, but not without some uproar. The automation led to significant staff reductions in the printing process, and in Wapping, London, where Murdoch had installed the most modern publishing facility, print unions launched a long and violent fight.
In this photo, Rupert Murdoch and Queen Elizabeth II look over the printing of the March 1, 1985 issues of the Times newspaper.
In 1993, Murdoch acquired Hong Kong-based Star TV, as part of his plan to build a global television network that would span Asia as well. It is one of the biggest satellite TV networks in Asia.
In the 2000s, Murdoch became a leading investor in satellite TV, film, and the Internet. In late 2003, Murdoch acquired a 34% stake in Hughes Electronics, the operator of DirecTV, the largest American satellite TV system from General Motors.
In this photo, Murdoch greets Chinese president Jiang Zemin during a reception at the Beverly HIlton Hotel on Nov. 2, 1997.
In 1996, Murdoch decided to enter the cable news market with the Fox News Channel, a 24-hour cable news station, which eventually garnered the highest ratings for a cable news channel. In 2010, FNC topped CNN, MSNBC, and CNBC combined in total viewers, for both prime time and total day categories.
Here, Rupert Murdoch jokes with TV producer Aaron Spelling during a Fox Broadcasting street party in Los Angeles on June 23, 1992.
In 1999 Rupe divorced Anna, his wife of 32 years and mother to three of his children. Anna Murdoch received a $ 1.2 billion USD settlement. Seventeen days after the divorce, Murdoch married 30-year-old Chinese-born Wendi. They have since had two children, Chloe and Grace.
Murdoch has six children. Daughter Prudence from his first marriage to Patricia Booker. Elisabeth, Lachlan, and James from his second marriage to Anna, and Chloe and Grace from his third marriage to Wendi Dang.
Elisabeth, Lachlan and James have long been pegged as his heir apparents. Though the order of this was shaken up when Murdoch's eldest son Lachlan abruptly resigned as deputy chief operating officer at the News Corporation and the publisher of the New York Post, in July of 2005 leaving James Murdoch chief executive of the satellite television service British Sky Broadcasting since November 2003. Lachlan remained on the News Corporation's board.
Meanwhile, Rupe has just recently purchased daughter Elisabeth's production company Shine, in what was widely perceived to be a move on his part to bring her back into the fold.
Murdoch's earlier purchase of The Wall Street Journal led to his ownership of Dow Jones in 2007. The Bancroft family initially declined his offer because of his tabloid style, political views, and practice of slashing the workforce. Shareholders of Dow Jones & Co. on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007 gave final approval to a $5 billion bid from Murdoch.
In this photo, a news zipper announces that News Corp. has offered to buy Dow Jones for $60 a share on May 1, 2007. It had seemed inevitable to many on Wall Street and in the media industry that Murdoch's offer would be accepted.
The U.K. government last week approved News Corp.'s proposed $14 billion buyout of British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC on the condition that the 24-hour news channel, Sky News, be spun off into a separate company.
On February 2, 2011, Rupert Murdoch launched The Daily, the first-ever iPad-only newspaper. 'Hundreds of thousands' of downloads have taken place,' Greg Clayman, who oversees The Daily, said at a paidContent conference in March. The app will eventually be offered on Android tablets.
'It's not a newspaper and yet it is because it publishes news every day,' Murdoch said at the official launch of The Daily at the Guggenheim Museum. 'It's not a website and yet we're connected to the Internet.'
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