Rupert Murdoch's summer of good fortune

Rupert Murdoch is having a great summer.Three times this summer, government regulators have had to make major ...

Posted: Jul 20, 2018 9:07 AM
Updated: Jul 20, 2018 9:07 AM

Rupert Murdoch is having a great summer.

Three times this summer, government regulators have had to make major decisions regarding media ownership. Three times, the decision has gone the way that Murdoch and his company, 21st Century Fox, would have wanted.

Murdoch is known to speak regularly with President Donald Trump. And some of the biggest stars of Murdoch's network, Fox News, have arguably been the president's most important supporters over the past year and a half. There's no evidence that either of those things led to the regulators' decisions, or that the decisions coming together this way are anything but a coincidence, but Murdoch's string of good fortune has set some tongues wagging.

"Everything seems to be falling Rupert's way," said BTIG media and technology analyst Rich Greenfield, adding that Fox News also secured two interviews with Trump and an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week. "Murdoch helped get the president elected. I think it would be naive to think there isn't a direct correlation."

Brian Wieser, an analyst with Pivotal Research Group, a media research firm, noted that "It could be a total complete coincidence that a number of things have played in Murdoch's favor," but said it's hard to ignore the political overtones.

"It could also just be just the collection of people in those positions (of government regulation) happen to be doing things that are what Trump wants and what Murdoch wants," Wieser said.

Those who say Murdoch's proximity to the administration has nothing to do with the recent regulatory decisions point out that many of Murdoch and Trump's most ardent opponents actually support the government's actions. Politicians like Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Richard Blumenthal wanted the government to do the things that it did. But those things also happen to help Murdoch.

A 21st Century Fox spokesperson declined to comment.

It started in June, when the Justice Department approved Disney's bid for 21st Century Fox six months after the two companies reached a deal -- a quick turnaround for these types of mergers. A year after AT&T announced its bid for Time Warner, the government filed a lawsuit to block the takeover.

Then last week, the government filed to appeal a judge's approval of AT&T's purchase of Time Warner, CNN's parent company. Whether the appeal is successful or not, the filing alone helped Murdoch: It likely helped scare Comcast out of the bidding war for much of 21st Century Fox, clearing the way for Disney and its $71 billion bid to go forward.

A Comcast-Fox combo would have likely faced the same regulatory hurdles as the AT&T-Time Warner merger. This possibility was enough to kill the Comcast and 21st Century Fox deal, Wieser said.

"Murdoch wants to sell to Disney full stop," Wieser said.

Greenfield said he didn't think the appeal is the reason why Comcast dropped 21st Century Fox, but said that any chance that an appeal could lead to Turner, the AT&T subsidiary that owns CNN, being sold off is a good thing for Murdoch.

"Anything that leads to a weaker Turner, leads to a weaker CNN, because right now CNN is part of a huge, deep-pocketed company with huge distribution platforms," Greenfield said. "If Turner is on its own, it's in a much weaker long term position."

And finally this week, the Federal Communications Commission shocked the media world by putting Fox's conservative rival Sinclair and its bid for Tribune Media on life support. FCC chair Ajit Pai announced on Monday that he had "serious concerns" about the transaction. Though Pai had previously been accused of loosening station ownership rules to help Sinclair, Pai this week criticized the company for striking deals to sell stations to buyers who have close ties with Sinclair as part of an effort to stay within ownership cap rules.

Sinclair has been viewed as a possible rival to Fox News as the former builds up a huge national footprint and snaps up talent like former Trump advisor Boris Epshteyn and former CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson. According to Politico, Sinclair has even approached current and former Fox talent like Jeanine Pirro and Eric Bolling. Last month, BuzzFeed reported Sinclair was preparing to launch a free streaming app called STIRR, a 24/7 TV channel featuring local news and national programming.

Sinclair tried to amend its Tribune deal to appease the commission, but the FCC voted on Thursday to send the transaction to an administrative law judge, citing a need to investigate "whether Sinclair engaged in misrepresentation and/or lack of candor in its applications with the Commission." The transaction now enters a lengthy hearing process that many media investors see as a death knell for the deal.

Sinclair has denied misleading the FCC "in the strongest possible manner," a spokesperson for the company said Monday.

If the Sinclair deal with Tribune falls through, it creates "less risk to Fox News from a new competitor and the potential to buy some of the better stations," Greenfield said. "It's great to be a Fox Shareholder right now. It's certainly been a pretty incredible year for 21st Century Fox on all fronts."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 560450

Reported Deaths: 7122
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1167211690
Ramsey48313858
Dakota42928423
Anoka38965419
Washington25195274
Stearns21198219
St. Louis16926298
Scott16187118
Wright14964128
Olmsted1282897
Sherburne1072580
Carver993045
Clay787390
Rice7701102
Blue Earth704240
Kandiyohi631381
Crow Wing624286
Chisago554750
Otter Tail547673
Benton536697
Mower453032
Goodhue448572
Douglas446071
Winona439549
Nobles401948
Morrison397559
McLeod397255
Isanti382559
Itasca379053
Beltrami375457
Polk367967
Steele366214
Becker359448
Lyon349748
Carlton331152
Freeborn329629
Pine313821
Nicollet310343
Brown295639
Mille Lacs285450
Le Sueur273822
Todd270030
Cass252526
Meeker239137
Waseca231921
Martin215230
Wabasha20003
Roseau198319
Hubbard174441
Renville172943
Dodge17253
Redwood166735
Houston162714
Cottonwood158221
Fillmore15229
Pennington151519
Chippewa147537
Wadena145821
Faribault145519
Sibley137110
Kanabec133622
Aitkin129436
Watonwan12609
Rock123419
Jackson118210
Yellow Medicine111319
Pipestone110526
Pope10386
Murray10319
Swift100418
Marshall85817
Stevens83310
Lake78819
Clearwater78514
Koochiching77813
Wilkin77312
Lac qui Parle73922
Big Stone5764
Lincoln5613
Grant5528
Norman5229
Mahnomen5178
Unassigned48678
Kittson46822
Red Lake3877
Traverse3625
Lake of the Woods3073
Cook1480

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 359450

Reported Deaths: 5839
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk56274608
Linn20392330
Scott19245236
Black Hawk15611306
Woodbury14960221
Johnson1415481
Dubuque13196203
Dallas1094596
Pottawattamie10804162
Story1035747
Warren559186
Clinton541791
Cerro Gordo524987
Webster508792
Sioux507873
Marshall477575
Muscatine463297
Des Moines443165
Wapello4255121
Buena Vista422140
Jasper408470
Plymouth398779
Lee369255
Marion355775
Jones293455
Henry286837
Carroll280152
Bremer279860
Crawford262840
Boone259633
Benton251155
Washington249850
Dickinson243743
Mahaska225750
Jackson218942
Kossuth213763
Clay212325
Tama206971
Delaware204539
Winneshiek194933
Page190721
Buchanan189031
Cedar185023
Fayette183541
Hardin181942
Wright180635
Hamilton178449
Harrison176673
Clayton167355
Butler162734
Mills159020
Cherokee157738
Floyd156242
Lyon155341
Madison154819
Poweshiek153233
Allamakee149351
Iowa146224
Hancock144234
Winnebago136931
Grundy135532
Cass135154
Calhoun133411
Jefferson131235
Emmet129940
Shelby129037
Sac128419
Louisa127349
Appanoose126747
Mitchell125441
Union123332
Chickasaw122715
Guthrie118529
Humboldt118426
Franklin113121
Palo Alto111323
Howard102922
Montgomery101537
Unassigned10040
Clarke98524
Keokuk95031
Monroe94528
Ida90133
Adair84832
Pocahontas84121
Monona81430
Davis79924
Osceola77116
Greene76710
Lucas75723
Worth7138
Taylor65412
Fremont6169
Decatur5919
Van Buren55518
Ringgold53624
Wayne52123
Audubon4969
Adams3314
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 44°
Mason City
Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 45°
Albert Lea
Mostly Cloudy
50° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 50°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 44°
Charles City
Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 42°
Rain showers return for Friday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Aaron's Evening Forecast (4/22/21)

Image

Aaron's Evening Forecast (4/21/21)

Image

Aaron's Evening Forecast (4/20/21)

Image

Bulls defeat Grizzlies in Fraser Cup Final

Image

Bruins continue fight for playoff bid

Image

Aaron's Evening Forecast (4/19/21)

Image

Sean's Weather 4/19

Image

Mayo Clinic Doctor creates art for patients

Image

Electric car show

Image

Walk a Block

Community Events