CLOSINGS: View Closings

Rupert Murdoch's media legacy takes a U-turn

When Peter Chernin was running Twentieth Century Fox, he was asked at an industry conference how he saw the company's...

Posted: Dec 14, 2017 4:38 PM
Updated: Dec 14, 2017 4:38 PM

When Peter Chernin was running Twentieth Century Fox, he was asked at an industry conference how he saw the company's future. "A lot of Murdochs," he quipped.

Indeed, mogul Rupert Murdoch has always run his companies not only with a buccaneering style, but a clear eye on handing to his children the reins of the huge conglomerates he created out of the newspaper that he inherited. In 2015, he passed the baton of daily stewardship OF 21st Century Fox to his sons, James and Lachlan.

Now, however, with the decision to sell much of 21st Century Fox to the Walt Disney Co., Murdoch -- who has cut such a wide path through the entertainment industry -- has left his heirs a considerably smaller legacy.

Murdoch reshaped the TV business in a number of key ways, almost always through audacious moves. He established a fourth broadcast network in the mid-1980s, launched Fox News a decade later, and in between nabbed sports rights and top affiliates from the major networks in industry-shaking deals that severed longstanding relationships, before changing the playbook in terms of how sports is presented.

Fox also advanced what many critics saw as a race to the content bottom, stooping to conquer with everything from tabloid magazines like "A Current Affair" to boundary-pushing reality-TV shows like "When Animals Attack" to, yes, Fox News.

At the same time, the executives working under Murdoch were often empowered to take risks that led to major breakthroughs. The film division bet on "Titanic" and "Avatar," and director James Cameron rewarded those gambles with record-breaking blockbusters. Capitalizing on Marvel's past financial woes, Fox wound up with rights to "X-Men" and "Fantastic Four," fumbling with film versions of the latter, but turning the former into a major movie staple.

Related: Disney buys 21st Century Fox: Who gets what

Yes, Fox could plumb the depths in TV, but it also gave the world "The Simpsons," "American Idol" and "The X-Files," as well as "Glee" and "This is Us" (which Fox's studio produces for NBC). Starting with "The Shield" and continuing on to critical darlings like "The Americans" and "The People v. O.J. Simpson," has repeatedly helped demonstrate that basic cable could match premium networks in ambition and prestige.

It's those content assets that Disney coveted -- they can dramatically increase its leverage in dealing with distributors and in establishing its own direct pipelines into the home -- and that the Murdochs are, surprisingly, giving up. "Surprisingly" because the deal reflects a dramatic U-turn, as the Murdochs are pivoting from trying to dramatically expand Fox through its failed 2014 acquisition bid for Time Warner to shrinking and dividing it.

Rupert Murdoch watchers have long noted that his heart has always belonged to his other media properties -- to Fox News and his newspapers -- more than the entertainment units. "There is ink in his veins," former Murdoch editor Andrew Neil testified during a hearing about Fox's proposed acquisition of the Sky TV service in London. "He is never happier than when he is spending time with journalists."

Associates and biographers also cite Murdoch's love of gossip and willingness to use those platforms to advance his own political and business objectives while punishing rivals.

Citing that dynamic almost 20 years ago, the late Don Ohlmeyer, then NBC's president, told the Columbia Journalism Review, "Until the rest of the media decide to take a hard look at Rupert's empire the way his media look at other people's empires, he's won."

Murdoch has enjoyed more than his share of historic victories, to be sure. But the empire he spent decades building just became a whole lot smaller, a shocking twist -- worthy of one of Fox's soaps -- for a major corporation that the mogul seemed determined to run like a mom-and-pop store.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 333626

Reported Deaths: 3843
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin700691145
Ramsey29459521
Dakota23564198
Anoka23541236
Washington14864125
Stearns14564125
St. Louis9549121
Scott896460
Wright847548
Olmsted714637
Sherburne618746
Clay529960
Carver509715
Kandiyohi440828
Rice432338
Blue Earth431217
Crow Wing383339
Otter Tail338925
Chisago334516
Benton322753
Nobles316032
Winona297832
Douglas283040
Mower274823
Polk271527
Morrison246731
McLeod233721
Lyon232812
Beltrami230718
Goodhue222932
Becker221521
Steele21038
Itasca206324
Isanti203917
Carlton201417
Todd190314
Nicollet172126
Mille Lacs164632
Freeborn16227
Le Sueur157012
Brown156115
Cass153511
Pine14498
Meeker144812
Waseca143411
Roseau13035
Martin124721
Hubbard119729
Wabasha11301
Redwood104620
Chippewa9808
Renville95530
Cottonwood9454
Dodge9311
Watonwan8944
Wadena8637
Sibley8404
Rock8249
Houston8004
Aitkin79930
Fillmore7690
Pipestone76518
Pennington7058
Yellow Medicine69612
Kanabec68614
Swift63610
Murray6124
Faribault6093
Pope5721
Clearwater55410
Marshall5459
Stevens5403
Jackson5321
Lake4518
Koochiching4216
Wilkin4175
Lac qui Parle4124
Lincoln3811
Unassigned38159
Norman3718
Big Stone3392
Mahnomen3225
Grant2986
Kittson2518
Red Lake2303
Traverse1531
Lake of the Woods1071
Cook800

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 237371

Reported Deaths: 2571
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk34873347
Linn14787169
Scott1184692
Black Hawk11288147
Woodbury10763137
Johnson985939
Dubuque947999
Story701924
Pottawattamie682474
Dallas661260
Sioux383829
Webster378339
Cerro Gordo373252
Marshall360950
Clinton345645
Buena Vista316614
Muscatine305172
Des Moines300623
Warren294115
Plymouth287044
Wapello265072
Jones237118
Jasper231546
Lee228719
Marion211922
Carroll204325
Bremer202713
Henry19367
Crawford183116
Benton175423
Tama157442
Jackson151117
Washington150216
Delaware147621
Dickinson145812
Boone144912
Mahaska133928
Wright13107
Clay12505
Buchanan123410
Hardin122812
Hamilton119514
Page11925
Kossuth11768
Clayton115510
Cedar114614
Harrison113432
Floyd111921
Mills11129
Calhoun10987
Fayette109812
Lyon10769
Butler10748
Winneshiek105513
Poweshiek103714
Iowa101414
Cherokee9674
Winnebago96325
Chickasaw9195
Hancock9138
Sac9068
Louisa90122
Grundy89514
Allamakee88413
Cass84725
Union8437
Mitchell8429
Appanoose81613
Humboldt8125
Shelby80511
Emmet79026
Guthrie78315
Franklin76421
Jefferson7635
Madison7265
Unassigned7090
Palo Alto6744
Keokuk6567
Pocahontas6024
Howard5859
Ida54915
Osceola5461
Greene5422
Montgomery51411
Clarke5064
Davis4839
Taylor4833
Monona4567
Adair4539
Monroe45113
Worth3881
Fremont3823
Van Buren3815
Decatur3410
Lucas3416
Audubon3112
Wayne3087
Ringgold2432
Adams1812
Rochester
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 31°
Mason City
Clear
40° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 33°
Albert Lea
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 33°
Austin
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 34°
Charles City
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 33°
More sunshine heading into the weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Sean's Weather 12/4

Image

13 homes evacuated due to Albert Lea blaze

Image

Property Taxes to Decrease for Most Olmsted County Homeowners

Image

Property Tax Decrease in Olmsted County

Image

MSHSL announces return to participation plan for winter, spring sports

Image

Improvements to Highway 14 corridor

Image

A plan for dangerous Highway 14

Image

Albert Lea fire claims warehouse

Image

Massive warehouse fire in Albert Lea

Image

Aaron's Thursday Evening Forecast

Community Events