News Corp by its fingertips: Rupert Murdoch’s Australian newspapers eye the abyss

Two questions emerge in the aftermath of Paddy Manning’s remarkable revelations in Crikey (here) of the disastrous fall in earnings at News Corp Australia in 2013: why did News Corp take so long to disclose what had happened; and what happened next?

The news from 2014 is not good. News Corp Australia’s publishing operations appear to have dropped another 73 per cent in operating income in 2014, from $88 million to $A24 million. That’s after a 69 per cent drop in 2013. News Ltd was almost certainly losing money in the first half of F2014 before it inched its way back into the black in the second half. Now CEO Robert Thomson talks of “green shoots in the Nullabor”, by which he means it’s currently not actually loss-making. But you can write off this massive economic unit as a serious money earner. Continue reading

Lachlan Murdoch’s $13.3m payout

21st Century Fox and News Corp shareholders will have to pay $A13.3 million as their share of a $A40 million settlement to stop their new co-chairman, Lachlan Murdoch, from being sued for breach of director’s duties at the failed One.Tel. It’s almost exactly a year since News Corp agreed to pay $US139 million to settle an unrelated damages claim that directors harmed shareholders by letting Rupert Murdoch as chairman use the company as “his personal fiefdom”.

Some background to the latest payout: In 2005, the then compliance director of the Australian Securities & Investments Commission, Jan Redfern, was questioned over documents which showed her staff believed that neither James Packer nor Lachlan Murdoch had a good understanding for what directors were required to do, with a suggestion she herself was “keen” to bring actions against Lachlan and James for breach of directors’ duties. She denied this. Instead ASIC pursued One.Tel executives including CEO Jodee Rich with assistance from PBL and News Corp. The action settled this week was brought by the One.Tel liquidator.

Transcript of questioning by David Williams SC (for Jodee Rich) of Jan Redfern of ASIC in the NSW Supreme Court on November 24 2004. Continue reading

Commander Ray Adams’ mystery year

In the two days that it took to erase all known records of Operation Othona—to shred the surveillance logs, witness statements, listening device records, photographs and informant contact sheets, to sledge hammer the videos, computer drives and tape records, in short to bludgeon the history of one of the London Metropolitan’s Police’s largest corruption investigation into oblivion in 2001, the mood among those who had been targets of the inquiry must have been exultant. Continue reading