The Return of the Amazing Dr Sarmaz and...
RUPERT WATCH !
Welcome once again to the newsletter solely dedicated to the activities of the world's only global media mogul. Watch Rupert Murdoch adding country by country to his empire on his exciting, apparently never-ending journey around the globe!
(This issue also includes a gratuitous copy of a rather useless publication called "Sat-ND.")
MCI to sell News stake?
Media magnate Rupert Murdoch expects his son Lachlan to become head of News Corp Ltd.
Mr Murdoch was quoted as saying that "when mortality asserts itself, my four children will be the inheritors of the shares and it's their decision, but currently I thought there was a consensus between them that Lachlan would be the one."
He added that he had no plans to step down or even die, and that Lachlan was "doing a brilliant job in Australia running our operations there." Lachlan, 26, is currently executive chairman of News Corp's Australian subsidiary News Ltd.
Mr Murdoch has inaugurated Sky Latin America's new US$140 million international satellite broadcast centre.
Mr Murdoch said he saw Sky Latin America breaking even by the end of 1999. He claimed the venture was outselling rival Galaxy Latin America, which is headed by DirecTV International, "about two-to-one."
Sky Latin America is a US$1-billion, direct-to-home satellite TV venture owned by News Corp, Mexico's Grupo Televisa, Brazil's Organizacoes Globo and Tele-Communications International Inc.
Mr Murdoch in an interview admitted he always has admired his arch rival, Time Warner vice president Ted Turner.
"I've never abused him, never attacked him. In fact, I've always rather admired him. I don't know what got into him," he told a news agency. Asked for a response to Turner's proposal to fight out their differences in a boxing ring, Mr Murdoch however remarked "That is a silly question. I don't want to respond."
"Talking to Murdoch is like confronting the late Führer."
"The late Führer, first thing he did was, like all dictators, was take over the press and use it to further his agenda. Basically that is what Rupert Murdoch does with the media."
"I did not call him Hitler. Can I say exactly what I said? I said that, like the late Führer, he controls the media for his own personal benefit."
"I fear him and I don't trust him."
"Rupert's idea of a better world is a world that's better for Rupert.
"He thinks that his media should be used by him to further his own goal."
"I think he looks down his nose at do-good journalism."
"I'd like to get him in the ring. I'll get the gloves on and face him."
"I don't respect him and I don't like him. People now know he's not a yummy yam from the Australian outback."
"That is a battle between good and evil. I don't want to talk about that no-good bastard anymore."
"I'm looking forward to squishing Rupert like a bug."
"I was just appalled that he bought the government of New York City. I read that he had contributed [US]$100,000 to the Republican Party of New York."
"He tries to buy politicians with book deals. If he tried to buy politicians it would be illegal. The book deals are transparent."
"Sitting wherever he is -- I don't know what country he is supposedly from, he is truly a citizen of the world -- he wants to sit here and control Indian television in India, he wants to control Chinese television in China. Bullshit!"
"He took the BBC off his China satellite feed. In my opinion he is a disgrace to journalism."
"We think that [pictures of scantily-clad women in Mr Murdoch's tabloids are] both demeaning to women and kind of semi-pornography. That alone makes him a little bit questionable."
"Time Warner was the best place for us to go. I didn't want to get run over by a car and have Rupert Murdoch, God forbid, end up with CNN."
"I am more than a little worried about my friend Ted Turner's blood pressure."
"Ted likes to say that since he is 10 years my junior, he will have 10 years of peace after I'm gone. To that I say, 'Dream on, Ted! I couldn't possibly deprive you of the pleasure of my company.'"
"I don't know whether it happened with my friend Ted marrying Jane Fonda or giving up lithium, but one thing or another, CNN has changed very greatly in the last couple of years."
European Competition Commissioner Karel Van Miert vowed to prevent Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB from dominating the digital TV market.
Van Miert said it was his duty to prevent monopoly positions from being created even though, in this case, it may appear as though the EU Commission wanted to hamper the development of digital television in general.
As usual, it's unclear whether the UK government will listen to what Brussels says even though the government is a new one. Some of Mr Murdoch's newspapers that earlier supported the former (conservative) government are meanwhile supporting the current (Labour) government.
As an analyst was even quoted as saying, "the government has a love affair with Murdoch."
According to the Wall Street Journal, Mr Murdoch is back in favour in China. The trick is that his joint venture with some Chinese companies, Phoenix, is downplaying its links to Mr Murdoch who once remarked satellite TV would help undermine dictatorial regimes.
Whosoever Mr Murdoch wished to please with such a silly remark, it did not please the Chinese. Nonetheless, Phoenix is 45%-owned by Mr Murdoch's Asian venture Star TV. The balance is held by Today's Asia Ltd., a media company with ties to mainland China (45%) and China Wise International Ltd., an international sales and advertising agent for China's TV stations (10%.)
As the cable networks that were set up in China over the past few years are in desperate need of some programming, Phoenix now reaches about 36 million of the country TV households.
What's more important: advertising revenues are on the rise. On a recent sales presentation in Beijing, advertisers booked air-time worth US$34 million twice as much as the year before.
Remember the former strategic alliance of EchoStar and News Corp? The deal was announced in February and fell apart in May. It's due for trial next June as EchoStar claims up to $5 billion in damages from News Corp.'s alleged breach of contract.
Meanwhile, lawyers for opposing sides met in the courtroom of a federal judge to determine the scope of discovery in the case. EchoStar attorneys will allege a conspiracy in which the major cable-TV companies pressured Mr Rupert Murdoch to cancel the planned US$1-billion satellite merger or risk losing cable carriage for his many Fox channels.
Attorneys for News Corp. will instead focus on a disputed satellite encryption system that it claims led to Sky's demise. However, News Corp. has indeed teamed up with the "cable guys" and their satellite service PrimeStar after the deal with EchoStar had crumbled.
News Corp. attorney William Leone admitted that the company ended up in a worse competitive position as a passive investor in Primestar compared to its 50-50 partnership proposal with EchoStar.
Buying the TV rights to the U.S. National Football League were important for Mr Murdoch to boost the public interest in his Fox Network. It wasn't exactly cheap, though: in December 1993, he agreed to pay US$1.38 billion.
Mr Murdoch now said he was "certainly very hopeful of retaining our rights and that negotiations will be concluded, I'm fairly certain, perhaps before the New Year but certainly not later than the end of January."
There is another problem for News Corp., and once more it's one of those strategic alliances. MCI Communications Corp, owns a stake in the company that is currently worth US$1 billion.
The problem lies with MCI which is likely to be taken over by WorldCom. The resulting company is expected to sell parts of its business, and that may include the stake in News Corp.
"If they called today and said here's the shares at a discount we'd look at it, but we've not made any decision," said Mr Murdoch adding that "we've got the cash to do it two or three times over."
News Corp. besides has no tangible plans to buy back shares apart from the A$1.3-billion plan recently announced. "I would say that in the long term as our profits rise our policy will be certainly to continue with that, but we've not made that commitment and we'll be looking at that again in a couple of years," Mr Murdoch was quoted as saying.
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Comments and contributions: pck@LyNet.De
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Florida Today has posted an interesting special story, which comes in eleven parts, about the future of rocket launches in general and from Florida in particular.
There's even an article about new launch sites all over the world. I can't tell you what's in there because the server was extremely slow tonight (and no, it was not my provider's fault; I did have ISDN-speed connections to other sites at the same time.)
USELESS FACT: First novel ever written on a typewriter was Tom Sawyer.
Super Karel strikes again (Sat-ND, 14.12.97)
Well, did I write that "The EU commission had recently warned Premiere, which teamed up with former competitor KirchGruppe, to market the Nokia-manufactured d-box"? True.
The next paragraph starts "Both groups reportedly agreed to stop selling the d-box..." Well, before any complaints arrive: It means that Premiere will not sell the d-box to its customers for the time being. Unfortunately, there is no general stop in selling the device.
USELESS FACT: Armadillos are the only animals besides humans that can get leprosy.
New Zealand (Sat-ND, 9.12.97)
Somebody by the name of Philip, who admits that he is quite pissed off by all that, sent in an interesting comment about the closure of New Zealand's MAX music channel. I think I'll just reprint it!
Closing MAX is a clear indication of what happens when TV is driven entirely by the money people and bugger anyone else. Things that may not have been apparent from the bare bones reports:
Oh yes, and for the Rupertwatch. Which international megacorp with Sky in its name is trying to get control of the NZ pay TV company co-incidentally called Sky, which offers five UHF pay channels and is just starting to get into satellite DBS?
Is there no beginning to these people's modesty and restraint?
USELESS FACT: New Zealand is the only country that contains every type of climate in the world.
Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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