Murdoch set up a TV station because he “want to watch something”


Like many people in the UK and around the world, Rupert Murdoch watches TV more than usual. Like some viewers, he was not satisfied with the channel provided. However, unlike almost everyone else, this media mogul can do more than complain.

People familiar with the matter said that Murdoch spent most of his time at the Oxfordshire Manor with his former supermodel wife Jerry Hall, and he decided to open his own radio station.

The executive chairman of News Corp and the co-chairman of Fox has been considering the idea of ​​opening a British news channel for at least two years, but this summer-especially after seeing GB News in trouble-he became more insistent that the project continues. conduct.

This week, former Murdoch assistant Andrew Neal three days later Step down As the chairman and host of GB News, during the two annual gatherings of British television elites in Cambridge, News UK Its plan.

From the beginning of next year, talkTV radio will be widely used on regular TV platforms such as Freeview, Virgin Media and Sky, as well as on the Internet.

Murdoch has attracted one of the most well-known figures in the broadcasting industry. Piers Morgan withdrew from ITV’s Good Morning Britain after making consecutive remarks about Meghan Markle. He will join the TV station’s “Global Deal”, and he will also appear on other platforms of News Corporation and Fox.

Whether Murdoch can make the new radio a success-both financially and otherwise-will soon replace the BBC funding model and the privatization of Channel 4 and become the topic of the Cambridge Royal Television Association conference.

Sean McGuire, managing director of media consulting firm Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates, said: “Whether the UK wants an opinion-oriented news service and whether they will watch it in sufficient numbers to reap the rewards is still inconclusive.” When the company launched News 24 in the 1990s, he was the head of strategy for BBC News.

Douglas McCabe, CEO of Enders Analysis, a media research organization, said: “This is not an industry you are in to make money. It is hard enough to make money from newspapers. It is even harder to make money from TV news.”

For some time, Murdoch has been considering returning to British television. He has been withdrawing from the industry since Sky, which he founded in 1989, was sold to the American media group Comcast three years ago. Out of anger at the tabloid phone wiretapping scandal, Murdoch failed in his early attempts to completely control the satellite broadcasting company, and his second attempt fell into regulatory difficulties.

He was initially interested in funding GB News, but in the end he was convinced that venture capital from within his company would be a better strategy. American media executive David Rhodes was hired in 2019 to develop plans for rolling news channels.

Some senior Murdoch managers do not believe it. Rebekah Brooks, the head of the British subsidiary, is skeptical about the huge investment required—especially given the pressure on the TV advertising market. Ofcom’s fairness rules are a more complex issue.

A series of options were developed, including the possibility of buying or cooperating with existing terrestrial channels, but the project stalled and Brooks announced his departure from Rhodes in April. Instead, the company is committed to a low-key plan for online streaming.

However, Murdoch is still keen on television and has filed several lawsuits this summer. At about the same time, he was negotiating with Morgan, the former editor-in-chief of Murdoch tabloid, to keep in touch with his old boss. Not long before the pandemic, the two had dinner with actor Joan Collins in Los Angeles.

Long before Morgan left ITV, News Corp had been talking to him, but could not agree on the terms. Some people in the company are reluctant to bring him back.

The fusion of various interests, including Murdoch’s desire for channels, broke the balance. As part of the arrangement with Murdoch, Morgan will show a show on talkTV, according to which HarperCollins will publish his next book.

Although Murdoch is fulfilling his desire to return to the small screen, talkTV will be very different from Brooks’s more ambitious vision that he initially reserved. Although the station will publish hourly news bulletins, it will not be a rolling news service, which requires a lot of investment: the BBC spends nearly £60 million on its news channel every year.

The details of the new radio station have not yet been finalized, but it is expected to be built on the basis that the talkRADIO radio station of the British news channel has been promoting video. The station has 275,000 subscribers on YouTube.

Now branded Talk radio and television, The product has surpassed the studio webcam. Guests use video conferencing to appear on the split screen with the host.

News UK stated that in addition to news and debates, talkTV will also feature sports, entertainment and lifestyle programs. One of the driving forces behind the project is the executive producer Winnie Dunbar Nelson, who has worked with Morgan on CNN and Good Morning UK.

Other Murdoch media have been experimenting with different formats: The Sun has discussed the dating show Love Island on the Internet, Time Radio has conducted visually derived internal experiments on its podcasts, and talkSPORT has checked the video materials of sports stars.

For talent, the channel will utilize other parts of the Murdoch Empire, including talkRADIO, whose presenters include Julia Hartley Brewer and Jeremy Kyle.

If you want to succeed in editing, Lis Howell, emeritus professor of journalism at London City University and former editor-in-chief of Sky News, said talkTV should take care to avoid relying too much on Morgan.

“Building a channel around a host is dangerous. The problem is, no matter how good the host is, they don’t work 24/7. There must be a strong enough supporting role.”

Murdoch will also be eager to avoid the poor production quality that affects the GB news release.

Although Neal has left, supporters say that GB News has a “promising future.” At a meeting shortly after News UK announced its talkTV plan, Sir Paul Marshall, an investor in GB News, told the channel’s staff that its financial backers are ready to deploy more funds on the TV station, which can be used for marketing And other recruitment.

The project last year raised 60 million pounds from Discovery and Legatum Capital, the American media groups founded by New Zealand billionaire Christopher Chandler and Sir Paul.

News UK did not disclose the scale of its investment in talkTV, although Brooks promised to “provide high-quality programming at low cost.”

However, despite all the analysis of the commercial and political considerations behind the joint venture, for Murdoch, the basic principles seem more straightforward. “He just likes to do these things,” Howell said.

And, as a colleague said, the billionaire just “wants to see something.”

Additional report by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson in New York


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