Elisabeth Murdoch – Media Entrepreneur or Media Nepot?



Call her what you will, really good at watching TV for instance, but Ms. Murdoch is now a serious player in the biggest of Big Media. In a rare interview today, from the NYTimes:

“I don’t understand how it’s gotten slightly so out of control,” she said. “Because all I was doing was watching TV enthusiastically. I happened to call my dad (Rupert) in the middle of the show (American Idol) because I was so excited. And he said, ‘Oh, I think someone’s shown that to us.’ I said, ‘You have got to buy it.’ As one does when you chat with your family, you are very direct. So I was very direct. So Dad went off and said, ‘You have to buy this show.’ And therein lies the luck of television.”

In 2000, Ms. Murdoch left her father’s business at British Sky Broadcasting, where she had been managing director of Sky Networks, to introduce Shine.

Her strength, say executives who know her, is her acumen for spotting what television viewers want to watch, as well as her ability to adapt different formats to different audiences, whether they be in America, England or elsewhere. At present, for example, her company is working on creating a version of “Law & Order” for the British audience.

Sony helped finance Ms. Murdoch’s acquisitions, having recently raised its stake to 20 percent from 14 percent. Another source of funds was a distribution from the Murdoch family trust last year, in which each of the Murdoch children received $100 million in News Corporation stock for their personal use.

Full article here. Given that most trustfundanista blow through their money rather quickly, only sucking, rarely growing, further family wealth, I’d say Ms. Murdoch is both entrepreneur and nepotist. Not a bad combo.

100M is really a pittance given the Murdoch billions upon billions, so forget that measley amount. Mostly, I wonder what Elisabeth now thinks of the convergence of TV and the Internet. Ten years ago, she wasn’t real thrilled at the prospect, but in the dial-up context of ’98, who was? From a BBC report in August of 1998 at The Edinburgh Festival, when Ms. Murdoch was GM of her daddy’s Sky TV:

“But it’s increasingly clear that people’s use of the TV and the PC are hugely different experiences.

“The Internet is succeeding because it is adding real value to people’s lives. Real value in transactions. Already e-commerce is gearing up to give retailers a run for their money. It’s incredibly effective for communication and the sharing of knowledge.

“However, as the founder of America Online put it last month at an investors’ conference, they can’t see what they can add to the experience of entertainment.

Famous last words, eh?! With the convergence of broadband and TV, I’m sure Murdoch is scheming and dreaming up a digital-offerings storm by now. Wonder if I can friend Elisabeth on Facebook? Maybe she’ll be snapping-up v-blogs in her next round of funding.

I just hope to one day add a Murdoch estate to my Seriously Big Old Media Family Compound ski-by video collection.


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