The fall of Murdoch’s media empire

By john knox


US president Joe Biden described Fox News’ owner, Rupert Murdoch, as “the most dangerous man in the world,” according to a recent-published book by two New York Times reporters.

The excerpts published by CNN in April said Biden was angry that Fox News had spread misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines and the attack on the US Capitol last January.

Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul, is the 71st richest in the world, with a net worth of US$21.7 billion as of March this year.

He is Chair of Fox Corporation and Executive Chairman of News Corporation, two of the world’s most recognized and influential media companies. To be exact, he owns Fox News, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications in the UK and Australia.

However, many of his papers and television channels have been accused of biased and misleading coverage to support his business interests and political allies. Some have credited his influence with significant political developments in the regions.

Fox News has become famous for its aggressively conservative-leaning coverage, and the news organisation has long taken an aggressive approach to coverage of Democratic presidents.

For example, the network has recently promoted conspiracy theories and misinformation about issues like COVID-19 vaccines, the 2020 election, and the insurrection.

Besides, Former Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd has accused Murdoch’s News Corporation of a “cancer on democracy”, while former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has labelled it “pure propaganda”.

However, these discussions fail to consider how the Murdoch press is in bad management.

Murdoch’s senior staffers, such as the anchor Chris Wallace, left the company after 18 years in 2021 due to the increasingly conspiratorial tilt of its coverage.

Moreover, Bill O’Reilly, a former top host of Fox News, has been dropped from the network after allegations of inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment dating back more than a decade.

Murdoch’s media empire’s chaos and falling revealed his poor management.

In July, more than 250 workers for publisher HarperCollins owned by Murdoch voted to authorize a one-day strike to increase wages.

There is no doubt that when an employee’s well-being and welfare is compromised, this can lead to underperformance. For instance, a change in attitude or behaviour, a failing of duties, or a loss in ability to interact and work well with others.

Murdoch’s new media company TalkTV has apologised to the mental health charity Mind after claiming that the charity funded the legal fees of asylum seekers last month.

The spokesperson of the charity group said what TalkTV did do was “plain wrong”, and the organisation also conceded that the discussion might have confused viewers.

While TalkTV admitted it had not given Mind the opportunity to reply to claims on-air in June.

TalkTV fans have flooded the channel with criticism which led to the falling of the channel, with official viewing figures dipping to zero at some points during evening broadcasts.

The channel, which was invested tens of millions of pounds by Murdoch, has become a threat to Murdoch’s media empire as a costly disaster unless he makes a rapid intervention.

In June, Murdoch tried to use his London visit to boost ratings at talkTV.

When it comes to business ethics, Murdoch did not do a great job.

News America Marketing, a marketing firm owned by Murdoch, will pay $125 million to settle a lawsuit for its “uncompetitive behaviour” in 2011.

Insignia Systems, an advertising and retail marketing agency in the US as well as the competitor of Murdoch’s marketing firm, alleging that it improperly tried to muscle the smaller rival out of the in-store advertising market.

In fact, as the media mogul, Murdoch struggled to control the destiny of the company he began building six decades ago after a trusted deputy was arrested and Scotland Yard’s top official quit over ties to a suspect in the phone-hacking probe in 2011.

Shreds of evidence indicated that Murdoch’s newspaper staffers had involved in illegal and unethical behaviour, including hacking of over 4000 mobile phone mailboxes belonging to celebrities, murder victims, and even ordinary people.

Murdoch shuttered the newspaper later in July 2011, but the scandal continued to grow.

According to the statics, the decline of Murdoch’s media empire in the UK has been the most prominent development of the last decade.

Newspaper circulation has collapsed yet further, with The Sun so far below its peak that it no longer publishes sales figures and suffers heavy losses.

The Sun, which was found in 1964 and became a tabloid in 1969 after Murdoch’s purchase, has attracted extensive controversy since its foundation. It has been repeatedly accused of regularly falsifying information and having misleading headlines, as well as allegations of being a perpetrator of the spread of fake news.

Besides The Sun, Murdoch also controls a British daily national newspaper The Times and The Sunday Times, as well as a television news organisation Sky News in the UK.

However, a survey indicated that the average British adult consumes over 12 minutes a day from the BBC, but just half a minute a day of news from Murdoch press.

We can tell that the Murdoch’s media empire is falling.

Murdoch’s 39.1 per cent stake in British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) has been bought out by the much larger Telecommunications company Comcast in 2018. And his share of radio listening is trivial.

But we can see business is far more important than politics to Murdoch. He is getting used to using his media to affect the political elections.

In October 2020, Murdoch projected that Biden would defeat Donald Trump in the presidential election.

Michael Wolff, an American journalist, wrote in a book last year that Murdoch made the call to project a victory for Biden in the swing state of Arizona on election night. And Murdoch had weakened Fox News’ support for Trump.

What’s Murdoch’s political color we can see from the US presidential elections? It is clear that he switched to conservatism when political and business conditions were favourable for him.

Is Rupert Murdoch an evil genius? Time will tell.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own


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