The Life and Career of Media Pioneer Rupert Murdoch

A photo of News Corporation Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch.
News Corp. Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch has a commanding role in the TV, print and motion picture industries. Photo © WireImage / Getty Images

Current Media Position:

Rupert Murdoch is the Executive Chairman of News Corporation, which has an estimated $60 billion in media assets around the world. Some of the most notable are the Fox broadcasting network and cable channels, the 20th Century Fox motion picture studios, Dow Jones, Harper Collins publishing, and The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post newspapers.

Significance to the Media Industry:

Rupert Murdoch isn't just a media owner, he is an innovator who sees huge opportunities in places that others ignore. Murdoch's crowning achievement in the U.S. may be the Fox broadcasting network, which launched in 1986 after he purchased control of 20th Century Fox and a string of independent TV stations. Conventional wisdom at the time was that there wasn't a need or a market for a fourth broadcast network. Shows like The Simpsons helped build an audience and a distinct brand for Fox. When Murdoch was able to bring NFL games to the network in 1994 and convince many more stations in major DMAs to switch affiliations to join the Fox network, putting it on par with ABC, CBS and NBC.

Another major innovation was the creation of Fox News Channel in 1996. The thought had been that CNN, which had been on the air for 16 years, couldn't be beat. Murdoch wasn't afraid of CNN, or MSNBC, which also launched in 1996.

Now, Fox News Channel dominates cable TV news by branding itself using conservative political commenatators, while its rivals scramble to find a formula to compete.

Such power doesn't come without controversy. Murdoch has been criticized for using his media properties to promote his political views and for using sensationalism and titillation across both his broadcast and print properties to build an audience.

His methods are coming under scrutiny with the phone-hacking scandal that led him to shut down the News of the World, Britain's top-selling Sunday newspaper, in 2011. Murdoch could be forced to testify and may face calls for him to step down as leader of News Corp.

Rupert Murdoch's Early Career:

Rupert Murdoch began his career in 1953, when he was 22 years old. He inherited the family's Australian newspaper business when his father died. He spent the next several years buying other papers in Australia.

In 1968, he bought the News of the World in Great Britain, followed by The Sun. In the U.S., Murdoch bought the San Antonio Express-News in 1973, started the The Star, supermarket tabloid and purchased the New York Post to launch his foothold in the states. After that, he turned his attention to television and film properties.

Career Highlights:

Forbes magazine puts Rupert Murdoch's net worth at $7.4 billion. The magazine ranks him as one of the most powerful people in the world.

Murdoch gave up his Australian citizenship to become an American citizen.

That was necessary in order for him to begin purchasing U.S. television stations to set up the Fox network.

In 2007, Murdoch bought Dow Jones & Company, which is best know for its Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) stock market index and The Wall Street Journal. This acquisition not only boosted Murdoch's portfolio of U.S. companies, it brought him new presige in the business community.

His career will now likely become a story of fighting for personal survival in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal. Because Murdoch is in his 80s, its natural for his board of directors to think of a future without him as leader. But with the scandal, some are already calling for someone new to take charge.

In 2013, Murdoch shifted from being Chairman and CEO of News Corp. to becoming Executive Chairman. That's the same title he currently holds at 21st Century Fox.

Personal Information:

Rupert Murdoch was born in Austalia in 1931. He holds degrees from Oxford University.

Murdoch has been married four times, most recently to former supermodel Jerry Hall in 2016. He has six children from his marriages, whose ages span 45 years from oldest to youngest. A few of his older children have played corporate roles within News Corp.

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