When Media Matters first highlighted reports that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. -- the parent company of outlets like Fox News, Wall Street Journal and New York Post -- had given a $1 million contribution to the Republican Governors' Association, we noted the possible motivation behind the massive contribution:
According to the [Bloomberg] article, News Corp. is actually the RGA's "biggest corporate donor." Bloomberg suggests that News Corp. has made these donations due to their opposition to "proposed federal rule changes that would weaken the position of its Fox network in negotiations with cable companies," stating that "Governors may have a stake in the issue."
Over on Newser.com's Off The Grid blog, Michael Wolff has even more to say about the possible motivation. He writes (emphasis added):
The notable thing about Rupert Murdoch donating a million bucks to the Republican Governors Association is not that he's risking general censure and opprobrium with this donation, but that he's donating money at all. Murdoch hates the idea of giving away money for nothing. The simple public relations idea of courting goodwill by donating an infinitesimal part of your wealth to a charity of your choice is anathema to Murdoch. He thinks the rich guys who do it are phonies. He's always irritated with his 102-year-old mother for supporting Australian charities—in this regard he rather thinks she's a phony.
Just say a little bird told me … the money doesn't come from Rupert.
The company is claiming the donation has nothing to do with its news side, going so far as to audaciously say, "There is a strict wall between business and editorial." The "corporate side" made the donation, News Corp.'s hapless spokesman insists. But the central advocate for giving the dough has been none other than Fox Chief Roger Ailes. In the past, Ailes has been stymied or neutralized in his quest to have the company put its corporate money where its mouth is, because the No. 2 in the company until last summer, Peter Chernin, was a Democrat.
With Chernin gone, and with Fox News outperforming most other parts of the company, Ailes is the central voice. What's more, Chernin's sidekick, corporate PR-guy Gary Ginsberg, who could be counted on to use the threat of bad press to keep Murdoch from giving in to Ailes' none-too-politic schemes and demands, is also gone—purged, in part, by Ailes.
In April, Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and CEO of Fox News parent News Corp., responded to a question from Media Matters by stating that he doesn't "think we should be supporting the tea party, or any other party." Murdoch's statement stands in stark contrast to his company's recent $1 million contribution to the Republican Governors Association, and News Corp's reported statement yesterday that the "RGA's pro-business agenda supports our priorities at this most critical time for our economy."
To be clear, even at the time, Murdoch's April statement flew in the face of what Fox News has been doing for years. As Media Matters has exhaustively documented, Fox News has tirelessly advocated for the Republican Party and its policies. Indeed, numerous Republican Party officials and Fox News employees have acknowledged the network's role in pushing GOP messaging and candidates.
In May, I noted that Rupert Murdoch's Times Online and Sun Online were clamping down on traffic stats in advance of putting up a paywall.
In retrospect the move appears to have been adept, especially when you consider the post-paywall traffic decline of more than 1.2 million readers from the two papers.
MediaWeek's Sarah Shearman reports:
In May, the free-to-access website Timesonline.co.uk attracted 2.79 million unique users in the UK, a slight increase on the level of the previous three months.
News International launched its separate Thetimes.co.uk and Thesundaytimes.co.uk websites on 25 May. It made registration compulsory and began redirecting users from the old site on 15 June and started charging for access to both sites on 2 July.
According to ComScore, the combined number of unique visitors to the two new sites has fallen to 1.61 milion in July, from 2.22 million in June, and 2.79 million in May.
The average number of minutes each user spent on the site was 7.6 in May, 5.8 in June and 4 in July.
Page views have dropped from 29 million in May to 20 million in June and 9 million in July.
News International has run an introductory offer offering subscribers 30 days' access for £1. Its basic pricing is £1 for a day's access to The Times and The Sunday Times and £2 for a week, while subscribers to each newspaper get free access to the related website.
No indications have yet emerged from the company as to how many people have subscribed or how much revenue subscriptions have generated.
The figures relating to dwell time and page impressions on the site suggest the actual number of subscribers is much lower than the 1.6 million recorded by ComScore, with many people accessing the homepage and then moving on, adding to the overall unique users but drastically reducing average time spent on site.
Coming soon to your iPad or mobile device, Rupert Murdoch's News Corps brings you the news in what is being billed as a "new national digital newspaper to be distributed exclusively as paid content."
The new digital paper will be produced under the roof of Murdoch's New York Post so it is sure to tug News Corps' right-wing party line.
The Los Angeles Times Dawn C. Chmielewski reports:
News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch is embarking on an ambitious plan for a new national digital newspaper to be distributed exclusively as paid content for tablet computers such as Apple Inc.'s iPad and mobile phones.
The initiative, which would directly compete with the New York Times, USA Today and other national publications, is the latest attempt by a major media organization to harness sexy new devices to reach readers who increasingly consume their news on the go. The development underscores how the iPad is transforming the reading habits of consumers much like the iPod changed how people listen to music.
"We'll have young people reading newspapers," the 79-year-old Murdoch said during the company's Aug. 4 earnings call. "It's a real game changer in the presentation of news."
Unlike News Corp.'s business-centric Wall Street Journal, the new digital newspaper would target a more general readership, offering short, snappy stories that could be digested quickly. The newsroom would operate under the auspices of Murdoch's New York Post and be overseen by its managing editor, Jesse Angelo. News Corp. has yet to set a launch date, although people familiar with the matter said the news organization would like it to debut by year's end.
Although it would draw the reporting resources of the Post and Dow Jones, Murdoch could potentially invest millions of dollars to staff the operation and charge a yet-to-be determined subscription fee. One person familiar with the plan said News Corp. envisions a staff of several dozen reporters and editors and that the budget has not yet been determined.
How long will it be until News Corps honcho Rupert Murdoch goes after those using the word "My" because of MySpace or Disney because its animated classic The Fox And The Hound has the word "Fox" in its title?
The Telegraph's Rupert Neate reports that Murdoch's BSkyB "has been ensconced in a legal battle with Skype for more than five years" because "because customer[s] might assume that 'Skype' is part of Sky."
A spokesman for Sky, which is 39.1pc-owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, said the company was trying to prevent Skype from using its trademark in relation to the sale of TV or internet service, because customer might assume that 'Skype' is part of Sky.
"Sky is involved in a long-running dispute with Skype in relation to several trade mark applications filed by Skype, including, but not limited to, television-related goods and services," the spokesman said. "The key contention in the dispute is that the brands 'Sky' and 'Skype' will be considered confusingly similar by members of the public."
Sky said it has taken legal action against a string of companies for attempting to piggyback on the "Sky" brand.
According to an article in the New York Post, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp (which owns the Post) is considering a "bid for the bankrupt Texas Rangers."
How cool would it be to see the Rangers playing at MySpace Field? A kid can dream can't he?
The Post's Josh Kosman reports:
Bidding for the suddenly resurgent baseball franchise will begin at $307 million, but a winning bid may be $100 million higher -- or more.
It could not be learned if News Corp., whose Fox Sports Southwest unit owns television rights to the team, would bid independently or as part of a group.
News Corp. may add its name to the list of wannabe owners of the suddenly competitive Texas Rangers baseball team.
There are several other potential bidders, including a group led by Hall of Famer and Rangers team president Nolan Ryan and a group led by Mark Cuban, the owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks.
It wouldn't be Murdoch's first foray into athletics. I highlighted the following report from The Independent in May:
Rugby club Melbourne Storm, which is owned by Murdoch's News Limited, has been at the centre of a major scandal, after players were found to have been receiving secret payments to stay at the club. This contravenes Australia's strict salary cap rules, and Murdoch has been fined a A$500,000. How many more fines can a magnate afford?
As a result of the scandal, the Storm was stripped of its "2007 and 2009 championship titles" as well as "three minor titles from 2006-08."
UPDATE: Accoring to another Post report, "News Corp. announced Tuesday it will not be submitting a bid for the Texas Rangers."
Howard Dean and Joan Walsh recently called out Fox News, criticizing what they called its "racist" handling of the deceptively edited Shirley Sherrod video clip. Indeed, Fox News and its personalities have a long history of aggressive race-baiting and racially charged commentary.
The National's Ben Flanagan reports that "Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud plans to launch a 24-hour Arabic-language news channel in partnership with Rupert Murdoch's Fox network, and has recruited the controversial Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi to head the station."
Something tells me Murdoch won't be importing the anti-Muslim/Islam hysteria found almost daily on Fox News stateside to this new venture.
The Daily Show's Jon Stewart did a send-up of Fox News' anti-Muslim tendencies earlier this week:
You can find a great deal more here about the right-wing network's history of making controversial assertions about Muslims -- often by baselessly branding them as "terrorists" or "terrorist sympathizers" -- calling for profiling, or equating Islam and all of its adherents with radical extremists who claim to act in its name.
David Kaplan of paidContent reported Friday that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is selling Beliefnet to BN media:
Beliefnet, the multi-faith-based news and discussion site, has laid off a "great number" of staffers today in advance of News Corp.'s sale of the company to BN Media, paidContent has learned. An announcement is expected this afternoon. Representatives from News Corp (NSDQ: NWS). and Beliefnet did not return calls seeking comment.
Last May, AllThingsD reported that News Corp., which acquired the site in 2007, was shopping it around. Back in October, Steve Waldman, who cofounded the site in 1999 and stayed as president and editor-in-chief after the sale, left the company to take a post with the FCC. The exact number of the Beliefnet staffers being let go wasn't clear, nor was the sale price. We will update when we have more details.
This news follows reports last week News Corp owned MySpace's co-president resigned. Charles Cooper of the CBS News TechTalk blog wrote last week:
In April 2009, former Facebook exec Owen Van Natta was hired to replace MySpace's founding CEO Chris DeWolfe. Then last February, MySpace canned Van Natta and promoted insiders Mike Jones and Jason Hirschhorn to co-presidents. Now, Hirschorn is making his exit from the company, leaving Jones to carry the ball as a solo act.
We've repeatedly noted that Murdoch is a mess when it comes to the internets. Perhaps he should just stick to propping up unprofitable newspapers and political television programming disguised as cable news.
Last week, highlighting Fox Nation's absurdly false claim that President Obama had turned over a "Major Strip" of Arizona to Mexico, Media Matters' Jamison Foser asked, "What lie won't Fox tell?" Today, Fox Nation reveals that they're even willing to lie about their own boss, as long as it helps them push their right-wing ideology.
Here's the backstory: News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch has joined several other CEOs and big-city mayors, including New York City's Michael Bloomberg, in a new organization that is "advocating for immigration reform -- including a path to legal status for all undocumented immigrants now in the United States." This morning, Murdoch and Bloomberg appeared on Fox News' Fox & Friends to discuss the coalition.
Fox Nation headlined their story on the interview, "Murdoch and Bloomberg Agree: Border Security First."
As Media Matters' Dianna Parker noted just minutes ago, News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch appeared on Fox & Friends this morning with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to discuss their support for comprehensive immigration reform. For his part, Fox & Friends co-host (and Murdoch employee) Steve Doocy seemed to be on his best behavior:
Steve Doocy hosted Murdoch and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Fox & Friends to talk about their about immigration reform efforts, and the tone of the discussion was pretty measured and -- dare I say -- pro-immigrant.
It was not the tone Fox News usually employs when talking about immigration. There was no typical scare-tactic b-roll of people appearing to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally by crawling over fences, no crowing about "amnesty," no outrage over immigrants stealing American jobs or getting fair wages, and no baseless suggestions that all immigrants are criminals. Get this: Doocy even used the phrase "undocumented immigrants," instead of slinging around the charged word "illegals," like he and his co-hosts do in virtually every other segment on immigration. It was like watching a completely different network.
But how far reaching will this promising change in attitude on such an important issue extend?
If the right-wing cable outlet's horrific coverage of global climate change despite Murdoch's efforts to fight the problem is to be any indication, not far at all. As Media Matters' has repeatedly noted:
News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch has stated that News Corp. "can set an example" and "reach our audiences" when it comes to fighting climate change, promising in 2007 to make all of News Corp.'s operations carbon neutral by 2010 and most recently commissioning pollster Frank Luntz to conduct a survey that reportedly studied the most effective way to communicate with voters on climate change. However, media figures at his news outlets, including Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, have routinely advanced false and misleading claims in denying climate change.
Remember, this is the same cable network that recently announced plans to launch a new website (FoxNewsLatino.com) targeting the Latino community despite its long history of pushing misinformation surrounding all things even remotely tied to immigration.
The News Corp paywalls are coming!
As media mogul Rupert Murdoch begins to ease consumers into paying for newspaper content online, Bloomberg Businessweek's Matthew Campbell reports that he's offering a variety of "freebies" to sweeten the deal:
The Times, the London newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., is offering free tickets to Toy Story 3 or a weekend at the Grosvenor Hotel in Dorset in an effort to persuade readers to pay for news online.
The newspaper this week began closing down its free website and will charge for access, mirroring a long-standing practice at the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. The New York Times Co. plans to do the same next year. Both concede the step will mean fewer readers. A drop in advertising revenue is forcing them to seek other, more steady, sources of income.
Murdoch's News Corp., which this week offered to buy the rest of U.K. pay-TV operator British Sky Broadcasting Plc for 7. billion pounds ($11.5 billion), is pushing a business model with clients paying for content as a driver of revenue growth. He's using that same strategy at the Times and the Sunday Times. The Times is now offering paying subscribers access to free events and discounted products through its 'Times+' service in an effort to build customer loyalty.
Still, any paywall strategy risks cutting newspapers off from an ecosystem of blogs and social media sites that was created partly by the availability of free content.
Rather than offering up movie tickets and other giveaways, I would have gone with offering consumers some straight-forward reporting based on the facts throughout all of his media outlets. Why stop with newspaper content? What about cable news? Anyone with basic cable in the U.S. pays for Fox News so why not start there? Rather than "Fair & Balanced" he could call it "Fact Checked, We Pinky Swear."
I'm not going to hold my breath… but I am going to hold onto my credit card.
From a June 11 Politico article:
The former nine-term congressman also showed that ties to his old employer, Fox News Channel, can reap financial rewards in addition to promotional advantages.
Kasich's report shows two $10,000 contributions in late May from Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch and his wife.
Kasich hosted "Heartland With John Kasich" and frequently served as guest host on Fox's flagship talk show, "The O'Reilly Factor," between 2001 and 2007.
Since floating his candidacy for governor in February of 2008, Kasich has made more than two dozen appearances on Fox News.
So how does News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch plan on instituting the paywall for publications like the Wall Street Journal and New York Post? By getting your credit card number.
Joe Flint of the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog reports (emphasis added):
News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch, whose holdings include the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, explained in an interview with his Fox Business Network how he plans to get people to pay for content online. It doesn't sound too complex.
Said Murdoch: "Simple. You turn them off. They've got to sign on. They give you their credit card number. And that's it. And then you e-mail them and say you're putting the price up or you're taking it down or whatever."
Just this week News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch admitted that his media empire had made some "big mistakes" since purchasing the once leading social network MySpace.
Here's another one of those "big mistakes."
If one were going to break big news on a social network, wouldn't it be a good idea to break said news on one's own struggling social network rather than promoting another rival network?
Not so, at least when it comes to News Corp's Wall Street Journal. The New York Observer's Media Mob blog reports:
When Times Square was evacuated earlier this afternoon, The Wall Street Journal "checked in" to the area on Foursquare with a news alert: "Portions of Times Square have been evacuated after a report of a suspicious package."
This was the first time the Journal has used FourSquare to break news, according to a release.
The Journal even put out a press release. A press release! It could have just as easily said, "Sorry MySpace, even your own sister-companies don't find you relevant."