Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rupert's Renewed Love Affair with Print Faces a Test; BUILDING A NEWSPAPER EMPIRE IN NEW YORK Relentless Dealmaker: Rupert Murdoch (Far Left), with Wall Street Journal Publisher Robert Thomson. Murdoch Has Been the Longstanding Owner of the New York Post, Bought the Wall Street Journal Last Year, and Is Now Eyeing Up Newsday

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rupert's Renewed Love Affair with Print Faces a Test; BUILDING A NEWSPAPER EMPIRE IN NEW YORK Relentless Dealmaker: Rupert Murdoch (Far Left), with Wall Street Journal Publisher Robert Thomson. Murdoch Has Been the Longstanding Owner of the New York Post, Bought the Wall Street Journal Last Year, and Is Now Eyeing Up Newsday

Article excerpt

Byline: ROY GREENSLADE

BACK in the mists of time, before he owned a Hollywood film studio, a UStelevision network, and a global satellite TV network, I recall an interviewwith Rupert Murdoch in which he was asked whether he had bought all he wanted.

A smiling Murdoch said he might consider taking a break for a while. He wasjoking, of course.

Within months, Murdoch was on the acquisition trail. With the exception of anightmare period of financial crisis from 1990 into the following year, hisNews Corporation empire has expanded at a dizzying rate ever since he made hisfirst big purchase outside his native Australia by acquiring the News of theWorld in 1968.

Deal-making is part of his DNA, and the greater the obstacle the more he seemsto revel in the chase. Last year he saw off much of America's journalisticestablishment to buy the Wall Street Journal. His efforts to transform thatpaper have only just begun with his decision to oust Marcus Brauchli, a memberof the old guard, as managing editor last week.

Now he is bidding to buy another New York-based newspaper, Newsday, and itappears that he will yet again run up against tough political oppositionbecause he already owns the New York Post and two TV stations in the city.

He is taking advantage of a relaxation in cross-ownership rules by the US mediaregulator, the Federal Communications Commission, that aroused controversy whenit was first mooted.

A Senate committeebacked, incidentally, by two Democratic senators, Hillary Clinton and BarackObamawants to see the rules re-established because of renewed concern about mediaconsolidation. The old argument is rearing its head: is the media mogul gettingtoo big for his boots? Murdoch's purchase of Newsday is not assured. The ownerof the New York Daily News, Mort Zuckerman, is also bidding for the paper. But,with the greatest respect to Mort, Rupert doesn't lose too many of thesetakeover battles.

Meanwhile, to illustrate just how far the Murdochian tentacles spread, thereare persistent rumours that his Asian TV division, the Star group, is plottinga print media initiative in India. The guy just doesn't stand still.

But there is no doubt that Murdoch's main obsession at the moment istransforming the Journal. That purchase cost him $5.6 billion. The fact he isnow willing to offer another $580 million to buy Newsday has got some WallStreet investors scratching their heads.

Is Murdoch spending too much timeand moneyon print? Like many media firms, News Corporation's share price has been on theslide, falling around 25% in the last six months.

Some think Murdoch, who has been warning that the US economy has taken a turnfor the worse, should be worrying about what to do next with social networkingwebsite MySpace and maximising revenues at his Fox TV channels. …

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