Murdoch, Rupert (1931- )

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Keith Rupert Murdoch was born March 11, 1931, in Melbourne, Australia, the second of four children born to Keith and Elisabeth Murdoch. After studying at Worcester College in Oxford, England, Mr. Murdoch took his first job as an editor on the London Daily Express, where he developed a penchant for the sensational and racy headlines and photographs that have since characterized many of his own newspapers.

Mr. Murdoch returned to Australia following the 1952 death of his father, a famed Australian war correspondent and publisher, to take over the family business. He operated the Sunday Mail and the News, both in Adelaide, upon which he constructed a newspaper and magazine empire in Australia, the U.S., the U.K. and Hong Kong.

In 1981, his company, News Corp., acquired the Times and the Sunday Times in the U.K. Mr. Murdoch bought his way into the U.S. media market with the New York Post, New York Magazine, New West, Village Voice and Chicago Sun-Times. However, the need to pay off a heavy debt prompted Mr. Murdoch to sell many of his U.S. publications, including the New York Post, which he repurchased after a sale.

But it was broadcast, cable and satellite TV in which Mr. Murdoch had his most formidable impact. In 1985, he acquired Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. and an independent TV station group from Metromedia to create Fox Inc. Launched with 79 affiliated TV stations and 80% coverage of U.S. homes, Fox moved to a full week of prime-time programming with series such as "The Simpsons," "America's Most Wanted," "Married ... With Children" and "The X-Files."

The network gradually added children's and sports programming divisions. By 2000, Mr. Murdoch had successfully launched cable channels for news and children's fare, as well as amassing a larger regional sports cable network and gobbling up pricey professional sports rights. He bought the Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Baseball team in 1999.

In 1994, the Fox network startled the industry by outbidding CBS for broadcast rights to the National Football League's National Football Conference games over the following four years for $1.6 billion. The repercussions were swift and included network-affiliation switches that left the Big 3 TV broadcast networks, especially CBS, scrambling to find new outlets in major markets.

News Corp. mirrored its stunning 1994 acquisition of eight New World CBS-affiliated TV stations by winning an aggressive bidding to acquire 10 major-market TV stations from Chris-Craft Industries for $5.4 billion in cash and stock.

At the same time, Mr. Murdoch became a force in international satellite broadcasting, building on Sky Television, his four-channel satellite service that merged with rival British Satellite Broadcasting in 1990 to form British Sky Broadcasting.

In 1993, he purchased Star TV, a pan-Asian TV service based in Hong Kong, as part of a plan to build a global network. Two years later, he aligned with MCI Communications Corp., a provider of long-distance telecommunications services in the U.S.

Mr. Murdoch's crowning achievement, however, promised to be the consolidation of all News Corp. satellite operations in a new publicly traded subsidiary, to be called Sky Global. The proposed deal, which Mr. Murdoch himself described as "a company-transforming event," was expected in the first half of 2001.

At the end of that year, however, the deal appeared to be derailed after rival EchoStar Communications snatched up Hughes Electronics' DirecTV with a competing bid. In early 2003, however, that deal fell through, and EchoStar again contacted Mr. Murdoch.

At the same time, News Corp. was in the process of acquiring the 49.5% interest in Fox Family it did not own from partner Haim Saban. That done, Fox quickly turned around and sold its Fox Family operation to the Walt Disney Co. for $5.2 billion in late 2001.

After cable giant John Malone became a close and influential adviser, Mr. Murdoch began to move News Corp. into Internet ventures and develop closer ties with companies such as Gemstar TV Guide, a leader in navigational tools for interactive TV.

Biography

Born in Melbourne, Australia, March 11, 1931; attended Worcester College, Oxford; took over family-owned newspapers the Sunday Mail and the News, Adelaide, Australia, 1954; his News Corp. acquired the Times and the Sunday Times in the U.K., 1981; began buying U.S. publications, including the New York Post and New York Magazine, in the 1980s; became a U.S. citizen to satisfy media ownership regulations when his News Corp. acquired Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. to create Fox Inc., 1985; launched the fourth-largest U.S. TV broadcast network, 1986.

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