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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 August 2007, 13:05 GMT 14:05 UK
Profile: Rupert Murdoch
By Clare Matheson
Business reporter, BBC News

Rupert Murdoch
Mr Murdoch followed in the footsteps of his father Sir Keith
Rupert Murdoch's acquisition of Wall Street Journal owner Dow Jones marks the latest addition to the News Corp trophy cabinet which includes the Sun newspaper, movie studio 20th Century Fox, Fox TV and publisher HarperCollins.

Interestingly, the purchase has highlighted a number of familiar themes running through his career.

Some quarters fear the move will lead to dumbing down and a loss of independence, amid concerns about his aggressive management style.

To that end, he has promised to set up an independent editors' board at the Wall Street Journal to ensure its editorial integrity.

But as Mr Murdoch himself has said: "I try to keep in touch with the details... I also look at the product daily. That doesn't mean you interfere, but it's important occasionally to show the ability to be involved. It shows you understand what's happening."

Small beginnings

The media mogul has been submerged in the world of newspapers all his life.

NEWS CORP BUSINESSES
HarperCollins
New York Post
Fox News
20th Century Fox
Times and Sunday Times
Sun and News of the World
BSkyB
Star TV
MySpace

Born in Australia in 1931, his father was a regional media magnate who guided him through his early career, which included a brief stint at the UK's Daily Express after his student years at Oxford University.

Aged 22, he returned to his home country to take over the reins of his father's loss-making newspaper, the Adelaide News.

After he had turned the paper around, it became the base from which he launched his global media empire. He embarked on an acquisition trail across the country and set up its first national newspaper, the Australian.

From the Antipodes, he headed to the UK, US and Europe.

'Dirty Digger'

Along the way, he drew criticism that his stewardship lowered standards, with quality journalism replaced by vulgarity.

The Sun - which was a loss-maker when he snapped it up in 1969, a year after beating Robert Maxwell to buying the News Of The World - was a case in point.

Rupert Murdoch and wife Wendi Deng
Mr Murdoch's personal life has caused controversy
The introduction of Page Three "stunnas", tabloid gossip and sensation-seeking stories soon made it the UK's most widely-read daily paper - and gained Mr Murdoch the nickname of the Dirty Digger.

But even in the early days, Mr Murdoch denied he was peddling sleaze, telling one interviewer: "I'm rather sick of snobs who tell us they're bad papers, snobs who only read papers that no-one else wants."

The Times and Sunday Times also soon joined his growing News International stable. Throughout the 1970s, his influence stretched across the Atlantic, with the purchase of the New York Post and New York magazine.

'Catalyst for change'

But his aggressive management style drew widespread criticism.

Picket line protest at News International in Wapping
The Wapping move triggered a lengthy battle with unions

In an effort to cut costs at his UK operations, he quit Fleet Street for good.

The move to Wapping in London's East End signalled a bitter, year-long battle with staff, which culminated in the de-recognition of the print unions and the loss of 5,000 jobs.

"I'm a catalyst for change. You can't be an outsider and be successful over 30 years without leaving a certain amount of scar tissue around the place," he once famously said.

Meanwhile, Mr Murdoch was also turning his attentions to the world of broadcasting.

In 1985, in order to comply with US laws on foreign ownership of TV stations, he moved to New York and became an American citizen.

Expanding empire

In the UK, he became a satellite TV pioneer, setting up Sky Television.

His profit-making publications enabled him to finance the venture, which soon gobbled up rival BSB and became, in its turn, hugely lucrative.

Before long, Sky could afford to bid hundreds of millions of pounds for the television rights to Premier League football, at the expense of rival broadcasters BBC and ITV.

Homer Simpson - 20th Century Fox/ Matt Groening
The Simpsons has proved to be profitable and popular
He also took on Hong-Kong based Star TV, helping it to become one of the first foreign-owned broadcasters in Asia.

But his tightening grip on the UK satellite broadcasting market also led, once again, to claims that he was dumbing down - this time with imported US programmes such as the Jerry Springer Show and Police Stop-style reality shows.

However, he denied the allegations, saying: "Much of what passes for quality on British television is no more than a reflection of the narrow elite which controls it and has always thought that its tastes were synonymous with quality."

Many programmes on Sky channels were made by Mr Murdoch's US network Fox, including one of the most successful TV shows of the past 20 years, the Simpsons.

Sky's ever-growing share of multi-channel television has led to complaints that Mr Murdoch has too much control over the sector.

The company is currently involved in a legal battle with cable TV provider Virgin Media, which claims Sky is trying to "coerce" Virgin customers into switching services by denying them access to its basic channels.

Sky, in turn, denies abusing its market position, saying the charges are "without foundation".

But legal battles are not the only hurdles the Murdoch empire has faced.

Money worries

In the early 1990s, faced with debts of around $8bn, the group was stretched thin financially and nearly crashed.

Person reading Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal has joined News Corp's 100 other titles
As a result, Mr Murdoch was forced to sell many of his US magazine interests to service its loans - yet by the late 1990s, he had bounced back.

In 2003, he took control of DirecTV - America's largest satellite TV system - for $6bn, allowing him to broadcast his own channels and not rely on other distributors to carry them.

Eager to be involved in all forms of media, his company also joined the internet revolution, putting its publications online and snapping up popular social networking site MySpace in 2006.

Now his $5bn acquisition of the Dow Jones group appears to have turned his media reign full circle.

By owning the group, News Corp will gain control of "business bible" the Wall Street Journal, at a time when business journalism is a major growth area.

Ownership of the Journal will add a hugely successful newspaper to News Corp's stable of titles and boost advertising revenues, while giving its whole business added prestige.

Private life

While Mr Murdoch has always put his interests first, his personal life has also been a complicated one - drawing comparisons with some of his tabloids' tales.

Sky chief James Murdoch
Mr Murdoch's son James is the only family member still at News Corp

Married three times, he himself caused something of a scandal when he divorced his second wife, Anna, after 31 years together, only to tie the knot with TV executive Wendi Deng - 36 years his junior - three weeks later.

The couple now have two children.

But in the years following the 1999 marriage, his four grown-up offspring steadily left the News Corp fold.

Only James, 34, is still on board as chief executive of the London-based BSkyB.




SEE ALSO
Murdoch wins fight for Dow Jones
01 Aug 07 |  Business
Murdoch 'close' to Dow Jones deal
01 Aug 07 |  Business
Q&A: Dow Jones takeover
31 Jul 07 |  Business
Bancrofts discuss Dow Jones sale
23 Jul 07 |  Business
Dow Jones director quits over bid
19 Jul 07 |  Business
Dow Jones board backs News Corp
18 Jul 07 |  Business

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