Rupert Murdoch emerged a fighter from the latest crisis threatening to cripple News Corp proving yet again that media moguls are made of sterner stuff. Here’s a look at some tycoons who qualify as epitomes of power
Rupert Murdoch: Midas in trouble
Murdoch faced allegations that his companies had been hacking phones of celebritiesRupert Murdoch is the founder and Chairman and CEO of News Corporation, the world’s second-largest media conglomerate. In 1953, Murdoch became managing director of News Limited, inherited from his father. In the 1950s and ‘60s, he acquired various newspapers in Australia and New Zealand, before expanding into the United Kingdom in 1969, taking over the News of the World and then The Sun. He moved to New York in 1974 to expand into the US market and became a naturalised US citizen in 1985. In 1981, he bought The Times, his first British broadsheet. His News Corporation acquired Twentieth Century Fox (1985), HarperCollins (1989) and The Wall Street Journal (2007). By 2000 Murdoch’s News Corporation owned over 800 companies in more than 50 countries with a net worth of over $5 billion.
In July 2011 Murdoch faced allegations that his companies, including the News of the World, owned by News Corporation, had been regularly hacking the phones of celebrities, royalty and public citizens. He faced police and government investigations into bribery and corruption in the UK and FBI investigations in the US.
Ted Turner: The 24×7 guy
Robert Edward Turner III is known as founder of CNN, the first dedicated 24-hour cable news channel. In addition, he founded WTBS, which pioneered the superstation concept in cable television. Turner’s media empire began with his father’s billboard business, which he took over at 24 after his father’s suicide. The business, Turner Outdoor Advertising, was worth $1 million when Turner took it over in 1963. Purchase of an Atlanta UHF station in 1970 began the Turner Broadcasting System. Cable News Network revolutionised news media, covering the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986 and the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Turner’s penchant for controversial statements earned him the nicknames ‘The Mouth of the South’ and ‘Captain Outrageous’. Turner has also devoted his assets to environmental causes. He was the largest private landowner in the United States until John C Malone surpassed him in 2011. He uses much of his land for ranches to re-popularise bison meat, amassing the largest herd in the world.
Steve Forbes: All the president’s men
Malcolm Stevenson ‘Steve’ Forbes Jr is the editor-in-chief of business magazine Forbes as well as president and chief executive officer of its publisher, Forbes Inc. He was a Republican candidate in the US Presidential primaries in 1996 and 2000. In his 2000 campaign, Forbes professed his support for social conservatism along with his supply-side economics. Despite holding opposite positions in 1996, for the 2000 campaign, Forbes announced he was adamantly opposed to abortion and supported prayer in public schools. The previous year, Forbes had issued a statement saying he would no longer donate money to Princeton University due to its hiring of philosopher Peter Singer, who views personhood as being limited to ‘sentient’ beings and therefore considers some disabled people and all infants to lack this status. Steve Forbes was one of the signers of the Statement of Principles of Project for the New American Century (PNAC) on June 3, 1997.
Oprah Winfrey: Queen of chat
Oprah Winfrey is best known for her self-titled, multi-award-winning talk show, which has become the highest-rated programme of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011. She has been ranked the richest African American of the 20th century, the greatest black philanthropist in American history, and was for a time the world’s only black billionaire. She is also, according to some assessments, the most influential woman in the world. Credited with creating a more intimate confessional form of media communication, she is thought to have popularised and revolutionised the tabloid talk show genre pioneered by Phil Donahue. From 2006 to 2008, her support of Barack Obama, by one estimate, delivered over a million votes in the close 2008 Democratic primary race.
Hugh Hefner: The original Playboy
Hef may have been ‘involved’ with maybe eleven out of twelve months’ playmates
Hugh Hefner is founder and Chief Creative Officer of Playboy Enterprises. Working as a copywriter for Esquire, he left in January 1952, after being denied a $5 raise. In 1953, he mortgaged his furniture, generating a bank loan and raised $8,000 from 45 investors — including $1,000 from his mother — to launch Playboy, which was initially going to be called Stag Party. The undated first issue, published in December 1953, featured Marilyn Monroe from her 1949 nude calendar shoot and sold over 50,000 copies. After the collapse of his first marriage Hefner adopted the lifestyle he promoted in his magazine and two TV shows he hosted. He admitted to being “‘involved’ with maybe eleven out of twelve months’ worth of Playmates” during some of these years.
Conrad Black:A fraud in the making
Conrad Black was for a time the third largest newspaper magnate in the world. Black controlled Hollinger International. Through affiliates, the company published major newspapers including The Daily Telegraph (UK), Chicago Sun Times (US), Jerusalem Post (Israel), National Post (Canada), and hundreds of community newspapers in North America. Beginning in 2005, Black was the subject of a highly-publicised prosecution in the United States. Having initially faced 17 charges of misconduct and of defrauding the company he led, Hollinger International, of $60 million, he was eventually convicted of three counts of fraud and one count of obstruction of justice in a US court in 2007 and sentenced to six-and-a-half years’ imprisonment. On July 19, 2010 Black was granted bail. On June 24, 2011 he was resentenced on the one remaining count of mail fraud and on the one count of obstruction of justice to a prison term of 42 months and a fine of $125,000. As the 29 months Black had already served were included in this sentence, he returned to prison on September 6, 2011, to serve his remaining term of thirteen months.
William Randolph Hearst
William Randolph Hearst was an American business magnate and a leading newspaper publisher. Hearst entered the publishing business in 1887, after taking control of The San Francisco Examiner from his father. Moving to New York City, he acquired The New York Journal and engaged in a bitter circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, which led to the creation of yellow journalism — sensationalised stories of dubious veracity. His life story was a source of inspiration for the development of the lead character in Orson Welles’ classic film Citizen Kane. His mansion, Hearst Castle, near San Simeon, California, on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, was donated by the Hearst Corporation to the state of California in 1957, and is now a State Historical Monument and a National Historic Landmark, open for public tours.
Kerry Packer: Not quite cricket
Kerry Packer was an Australian media tycoon and heir to the Packer family company that owned controlling interest in both the Nine television network and leading Australian publishing company Australian Consolidated Press, which were later merged to form Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL). Packer was known for his abrasive personality, his wealth, his lavish gambling habits, his expansive business empire and his clashes with the Australian Taxation Office and the Costigan Royal Commission. At the time of his death, Packer was the richest and one of the most influential men in Australia. In 2004, Business Review Weekly magazine estimated Packer’s net worth at A$6.5 billion. Outside Australia, Packer was best known for founding World Series Cricket. In 1977 the Nine Network cricket rights deal led to a confrontation with the cricket authorities, as top players from several countries rushed to join him at the expense of their international sides.
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