News Corp split in motion. Murdoch names unit chief

Dec 03, 2012 by Sophie Estienne
Rupert Murdoch put the future of his newspaper and publishing empire in the hands of a fellow Australian as he set in motion the split of the media-entertainment conglomerate.

Rupert Murdoch put the future of his newspaper and publishing empire in the hands of a fellow Australian on Monday as he set in motion the split of his media-entertainment conglomerate, News Corp.

Murdoch also announced the shutdown of the pioneering iPad newspaper The Daily due to a lack of readers.

The moves come as Murdoch prepares to break the conglomerate into two companies, one with the fast-growing film and television operations, to be named Fox Group, the other—retaining the News Corp name—to manage the struggling news and publishing businesses.

In a statement, News Corp said Robert Thomson, 52, editor-in-chief of the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal, will take the helm of the global publishing entity as on January 1.

A soft-spoken Australian and one-time China correspondent, Thomson is a longtime close confidant of Murdoch, 81, and a former editor of The Times of London.

"Congratulations to Robert Thomson, incoming CEO of our publishing company. A special leader and great friend. Also an Aussie!" wrote Murdoch on his Twitter feed.

In a statement from its New York headquarters, News Corp said Mike Darcy, a former chief operating officer of BSkyB, will replace Tom Mockridge as chief executive officer of News International.

Mockridge—a New Zealander who took the reins at News International at the height of a phone hacking furor in July 2011—leaves the company at the end of the year.

News International is publisher of The Sun and the defunct News of World, tabloid newspapers that have been at the center of a firestorm in Britain over the hacking of cellphone voice mails.

"This is an incredibly exciting time for me personally, and for our companies' ambitious futures," said Murdoch. "The challenges we face in the publishing and media industries are great, but the opportunities are greater."

News Corp also announced that it will cease publication of its iPad app The Daily from December 15, adding cryptically however that "the brand will live on in other channels."

As previously announced, Murdoch will serve as chairman of the new News Corporation and chairman and CEO of Fox Group.

Chase Carey will be president and chief operating officer of Fox Group, with Murdoch's son James Murdoch continuing in his capacity as deputy chief operating officer.

News Corp announced earlier this year it would create a a new company from its publishing division, which has annual revenues of $8.8 billion and includes The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, , newspapers in Australia and the HarperCollins publishing House.

The Fox Group will include the Twentieth Century Fox studios, Fox broadcasting operations and cable television, with annual revenues of $23.5 billion.

Monday's announcement followed last week's release in London of a report by judge Brian Leveson which, in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, proposed a new independent self-regulatory body for British newspapers backed by law.

British Prime Minister David Cameron commissioned the Leveson inquiry in July 2011 amid allegations that the News of the World hacked the voicemails of a murdered schoolgirl as well as celebrities and public figures.

Murdoch described Thomson on Monday as "a person of unmatched integrity whose passion and commitment to excellence have gained him the confidence and trust of his colleagues all around the world."

Thomson returned the compliment, saying that "Rupert has been the driving force behind the renaissance of The " which he acquired via News Corp in 2008.

"We have a collection of extremely successful companies," Thomson said, "and our goal is to make the new News Corp far more than the sum of its distinguished parts."

Media analyst Ken Doctor said that "the slew of announcements show energy, and a path forward" for , in contrast with its rival The New York Times, which announced plans to cut its newsroom staff.

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