THE fact that the new non-executive co-chairman of News Corp is the current chairman’s son has nothing to do with his appointment, as the Dirty Digger made clear in his email announcing the move to UK staff.
“I have no doubt that Lachlan’s strategic sense and his passion for media and for knowledge will greatly assist Robert [Thomson] and me as we lead the company over the coming decade,” wrote a proud dad. “Please join me in congratulating Lachlan, who will make a great contribution in ensuring the new News is an even more successful force for good.”
It was Lachlan’s “strategic sense” that led the company to invest around £200m in Australian telecoms firm One Tel from 1999 until its collapse in 2001. His “passion for media” was also on display when he was in charge of another News Corp acquisition down under, Network Ten, which has struggled in the Australian TV market.
‘Fucked the company’
Still, he can’t be any worse than his brother. Even his own sister Elisabeth thought James Murdoch’s handling of the phone-hacking scandal while CEO of News International had “fucked the company”.
The Sun meanwhile was hot on the trail of nepotism last week – but not the obvious example on its own doorstep. “Labour jobs for the boys,” screamed the headline over an article on 25 March by political editor Tom Newton-Dunn, attacking the offspring of Messrs Kinnock, Straw, Blair and Prescott. A day later, Lachlan’s appointment failed to garner a similar reaction.
Over at the Daily Mail, meanwhile, City editor Alex Brummer commented kindly on Lachlan’s business talents. But he seemed less keen to tackle the question of what say shareholders might have had in the appointment.
‘Genius will tumble down the generations’
“There is a long tradition in the US of media dynasties, the Ochs and Sulzbergers at the New York Times, keeping control in the family,” he wrote. “Rupert Murdoch clearly is hoping that his genius will tumble down the generations irrespective of what minority investors might think.”
The normally outspoken Brummer might have been expected to have had a much more ferocious swipe at an archaic voting structure that allows son to follow father into the top job, regardless of qualification or shareholder opinion. But there is another company that has the same structure: the Daily Mail General Trust, where tradition dictates that Rothermere son always follows Rothermere father – thus allowing genius to tumble down the generations!