Thursday, November 10, 2011

Big News at News Ltd

It was an announcement that caught everyone by surprise today - the resignation of the boss of the Australian arm of News Ltd, John Hartigan.

Kim Williams
Even more surprising was Rupert Murdoch's following announcement in Melbourne today, that the Foxtel boss who also runs Fox Studios, Kim Williams will take Hartigan's place. Murdoch will now takeover as CEO of Australian operations.

It's a sure sign that no matter what happens with News Corp in the USA or UK, Murdoch is ensuring that the highly profitable control of his Australian operations is under his command. A court case in the Melbourne courts is currently tarnishing the image of Murdoch's most beloved publication The Australian, the countries only national newspaper set up by Rupert in 1964.

Gough & Margaret Whitlam
And the choice of Kim Williams who has never worked on a newspaper is an extraordinary departure from standard Murdoch practice. Williams is a no-nonsense boss and considered not only articulate and clever but bordering on the intellectual and certainly not a 'right winger' like most of News Ltd's major executives.

He is also married to Catherine Dovey, daughter of former Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam who broke the Conservative stranglehold on Australian politics in 1972 when the Coalition was finally defeated after 23 years in power.

Whitlam swept into office on a wave of enthusiasm for change and for Australia to get out of the Vietnam War with the backing of the Murdoch media. Three years later Murdoch was to turn on Labor and give his support back to the Coalition.