Rupert Murdoch is firmly established in the minds of the public as a global media mogul. His stakes in various media affiliates have steadily increased over a number of decades, but how big is his empire?
Murdoch famously owned a significant proportion of 21st Century Fox, which merged their assets with Disney within the last year. By selling his shares in the company to Disney, Murdoch added billions to his fortune. The staggering revenue the deal generated renewed the conversation about how ethically and morally permissible it is for a single person to own significant stakes in vast swathes of the media.
Following the Disney deal, and the understandable media interest it generated, the question of what Rupert Murdoch actually owns was raised. This article will cover his significant and surprising media shares across the U.K, U.S.A, his native Australia and particular surprising global purchases.
Power in the UK
In Britain, Rupert Murdoch is best known for owning prolific tabloid papers such as the News of the World and The Sun. The infamous News of the World phone-hacking scandal led to the paper being closed down in 2011.
When Rupert Murdoch approached The Sun’s then-owners IPC (International Publishing Corporation) to buy the then fledging paper in 1969, he reassured them that he would publish a “straightforward, honest newspaper” which would continue to support Labour, as it had done previously. After he had bought The Sun in 1969, the papers political sway changed immediately.
The Sun had previously supported Labour governments and politicians. Under Murdoch’s ownership in 1969, the paper shifted and began to support Margaret Thatcher, who at the time was campaigning to become the British Prime Minister.
After his initial acquisitions, Murdoch began expanding his media empire within the U.K, buying both the Times and The Sunday Times. Significantly, 21st Century Fox owned the majority shares in Sky News UK, and in 2018 Murdoch sold the company to US media conglomerate Comcast. Another perhaps less-known acquisition of Murdoch’s is the Wireless group, which owns a number of Radio stations. Stations such as the sports channel talkSPORT were placed under new ownership in 2016.
Murdoch in the USA
Murdoch moved to New York City in the 1970’s, and began acquiring American media assets to add to his empire. He bought the New York Post and New York Magazine in the 1980’s – he still owns the New York Post. Famously, he bought a controlling stake in 20th Century Fox in 1985, and changed the landscape of television. That same year he renounced his Australian citizenship to satisfy American regulations to become a full owner of American television stations.
In 1996, alongside Roger Ailes, Murdoch launched Fox News, a 24-hour news channel which today is both a major and influential news outlet in America. A significant acquisition made by Murdoch was his purchase of America’s seminal financial paper, The Wall Street Journal. Once again, through News Corp, Murdoch bought the paper in 2007 for 5 billion dollars. The paper had previously been in the hands of the Bancroft family for over 100 years.
Always a presence in Australia
Rupert Murdoch’s father owned the Adelaide News, a regional newspaper that Rupert Murdoch inherited when he was 22. Under his tenure, the paper’s popularity increased, in part due to the scandals the paper began to cover.
As time went on, Murdoch began to acquire more and more newspapers across Australia and eventually controlled almost a staggering two thirds of the Australian media market. In 1964, he founded the countries first national newspaper The Australian.
Murdoch owns many of Australia’s widely read magazines such as GQ Australia, as well as Sky News Australia, which News Corp Australia bought in 2016. News Corp Australia itself owns around 140 plus Australian newspapers both regional and national, and is the country’s largest media conglomerate.
Murdoch has retained his ownership of many of Australia’s regional newspapers. Moreover, perhaps surprisingly, Murdoch, through the conglomerate News Corp, has also bought many of Australia’s suburban community papers. These papers are centralised under a larger media affiliation which in turn is owned by Murdoch’s media giant News Corp. For example, Melbourne’s Leader Community Newspapers which is owned by News Corp, manages and publishes 33 suburban papers. Murdoch’s domination of both Australia’s regional and national newspapers is evident and undeniable.
His global media and communications empire
One of Murdoch’s surprising media purchases is the Papua New Guinea Post Courier, he owns more than 60% of the paper. The paper itself was the countries first national paper as News Corp Australia bought what had been the countries two dominant papers and merged them into one.
The decision by Murdoch to acquire Star India in 1992 for a colossal 525 million dollars may be odd to some. But given India’s population of nearly a billion people, it’s understandable why Murdoch would want to gain and control a significant amount of the country’s media market. This acquisition marked a move away from his typical purchases which tended to focus on the U.K, U.S.A and Australia. It foreshadowed his media empire becoming truly global.
As of 2019, Rupert Murdoch’s net worth is estimated to be over 19 billion dollars, and his vast fortune through his media acquisitions undeniably make him one of the most influential men in the world. Murdoch’s vast global media empire controls a significant proportion of influential media outlets and publications. With media being essential to society, understandably media monopolisation is a global source of concern.
Who will lead his once vast but now declining business empire when he eventually decides to pass control over is discussed in the recent BBC documentary “Rupert Murdoch – The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty”