Rupert Murdoch is now an old man on a lonely throne [View all]
By Peter Preston, The Observer
Sunday, June 2, 2013 7:37 EDT
In his 80s, with no clear successor, the media mogul and his spun-off newpaper operation are in a precarious position
Matthew Parris went to the Orwell prizegiving the other day and suddenly saw red. Chris Mullin MP was giving a speech lauding fine investigative journalism – like that of this year’s winner, Andrew Norfolk of the Times – which he firmly asserted was achieved “despite” the efforts of newspaper proprietors. “What sneery, snivelling, ignorant, leftie rubbish,” wrote Parris.
“Who does he think pays for Norfolk’s investigations, or for my columns? Does he know nothing about the losses being clocked up by quality newspapers all over the world? … Does he realise how precarious now is the whole future of daily newspapers in Britain?” Call it, on second thoughts, a Rupert red mist.
There’s a balance-sheet bonne bouche of $2bn and a wiping away of debts that will help News Corp mark two ride briefly high when it goes solo and public – though no longer listed in London – at the end of June. But there will also be no more lush, adjacent pastures of satellite TV or Hollywood blockbusters to assure US shareholder peace when loss-making papers have to be supported. 21st Century Fox won’t be indulging the boss’s little foibles any longer. Once the presses roll, he’s on his own.