Rupert Murdoch is back to business as usual

Media mogul is home free once again now that News UK will face no further legal action over phone hacking

Rupert Murdoch is back to business as usual

World Bulletin / News Desk

So Rupert Murdoch is off the hacking hook at last. Even though corporate charges looked highly unlikely after mixed verdicts in the various phone-hacking trials, he will be relieved to have formal confirmation that News UK will not face legal action.

It was on 19 July 2011 that the contrite media tycoon, shaky of voice and apparently overcome by emotion, told a parliamentary committee, and the world: “This is the most humble day of my life.”

By that time Murdoch had ordered the closure of the News of the World, seen two of his treasured senior executives, Les Hinton and Rebekah Brooks, depart and been forced to shelve News Corp’s bid to assume total ownership of Sky TV.

He also felt it politic to remove his son, James, from the UK arena, shipping him off to the US. Then he oversaw the splitting of his giant company into two parts. The supposedly “toxic” – and commercially weak – newspapers were consigned to a publishing entity, while the much more profitable entertainment division was allowed to go its own lucrative way, becoming 21st Century Fox.

Murdoch’s humility did not stifle him for long. In February 2012, he launched the Sun on Sunday. Its editorial agenda was noticeably less salacious and its news-gathering methodology less intrusive than its predecessor.

He changed the name of his British outfit from News International to News UK; he imported a new executive team; and he recruited public relations experts to transform his company’s image, giving it a friendlier gloss.

Murdoch was not prepared, however, to do much more than was really necessary to quell initial public outrage about hacking. Once the heat was off, he would consolidate his position – and that of his company – during a period of relative calm.

He knew he must bide his time until the trials of his former employees had passed, aware that the outcome of Brooks’s trial was crucial. After all, he had openly referred to the former Sun and NoW editor – whom he had appointed as News International’s chief executive – as his “priority”.

Once she was cleared of all charges, he set out to bring her back into the fold and she duly returned in September this year as chief executive of News UK.

Similarly, James was rehabilitated, becoming chief executive of 21st Century Fox in July. And now the Sky bid could be back on the table: James hinted in Octoberthat a renewed offer may be possible.

Along the way, Murdoch has dispensed with the services of some of his media-friendly PR team at News UK; appointed a new, more aggressive Sun editor, Tony Gallagher; and appears to have put the hacking scandal behind him.

The Crown Prosecution Service’s announcement about there being insufficient evidence to mount a corporate prosecution is the cherry on top of Murdoch’s cake.

The great survivor is home free once again. In December 1990, with his company on the brink of collapse, Murdoch pulled it around. He has faced political and commercial scrapes throughout his career and emerged from them not only unscathed but usually better off.

Critics who thought hacking would bring him down underestimated the characteristics that have carried him on an upward trajectory throughout his 84 years: the grit and guile of a born gambler.

He is humble no longer. Look at News UK – and, for that matter, News Corp and 21st Century Fox – and it’s clear that, for Murdoch, hacking is merely a nasty memory. It’s business as usual.

Surely Murdoch’s personal theme song should be Gloria Gaynor’s greatest hit: I Will Survive.

Source: The Guardian

Last Mod: 11 Aralık 2015, 17:32
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