Monday, September 28, 2009

Rupert Murdoch and News Corp: More than just American Idol

In this week's readings, Thussu's "Creating a Global Communication Infrastructure" piqued my interest, particularly his case study of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. While I had of course heard of Murdoch previously, I had no idea just how extensive his media empire was.

Murdoch owns more than 110 newspapers in his native Australia alone. He also owns BSkyB (British Sky Broadcasting), to which more than one-third of British households subscribe, as well as the Times and the Sun, two UK newspapers with very different styles (the Times being the more serious of the two, while the Sun is famous for splashy headlines proclaiming the latest celebrity scandal). In the US, The News Corporation is most well-known to us through the Fox Network, without which we would not have such inimitable shows as The Simpsons, The X-Files, and, of course, American Idol. Here in the States, Murdoch's influence is also present in the Fox News Channel, Twentieth Century Fox movies, and the mammoth HarperCollins publishing house. The most surprising discovery for me was News Corp's presence in Asia, especially India and China, with country-specific programming like STAR Plus and Phoenix. To say Murdoch's influence is far-reaching is something of an understatement to say the least.

The News Corporation has proven itself extremely successful, thanks to the business savvy of its head. However, Murdoch has come under fire for what some perceive as conservative bias in his media's news reporting--Fox News here in the US, for example--but that hasn't seemed to affect the reach of his media empire. Fox News, for all the criticism it's attracted for the aforementioned bias, has been the top-rated cable news network for 86 months straight as of February. ( Whatever Murdoch is doing, it works, bias or no bias.

I think the very reason it works is because of deregulation and liberalization in the media and telecommunications industries--the larger subject of Thussu's piece. These policies, begun largely in the 1980s by the US and the UK, have allowed private companies like News Corp to expand their global influence, and focus their efforts on reaching new markets and deepening their presence in existing ones. The News Corporation is just one example of how this deregulation impacts our daily lives. It also begs the question, what next? Is this deregulation and privatization of media and telecommunications positive or negative in the face of a globalizing economy and changing political climate?

1 comment:

  1. Do you think that Fox News is successful because it has good ratings? Or do you think that it is because it has large viewership it is able to share their views to more people? Or is it because those that watch are conservative Americans who watch it because the agree with their bias?
    If we follow economic paradigm, then it follows that more viewers equals more money and that is a plus for Murdoch and his empire. I don't think people who disagree with Fox News bias will watch it at this point. Nor do I think that they are changing people's liberal slants to conservative ones. This is also what we've been discussing in class, and what is in the readings. Does the media have that much power over what we think or is it our own choices that dictate what we watch?