How Rupert Murdoch Built His Empire To Become One of The Most Influential People in Media

Rupert Murdoch and his family are reported to have a net worth of $22.2 billion. Thus, he is ranked among the most influential people in the media industry. Following his inheritance of an Australian publishing firm from his father Keith Murdoch when he was in his early 20s, Rupert expanded the business to multiple countries and it now spans across newspaper, book publishing, and TV networks. He has further gone on to acquire ownership of multi-billion dollar corporations like News Corp and Fox Corporation which has allowed him to rank among the top richest people in America.

Through the acquisition of several other media companies around the world, the media mogul owns hundreds of local, national, and international publishing outlets, as well as widely known TV broadcasting channels like Fox News and Sky Australia. Not only has Rupert Murdoch augmented his net worth through his exploits in media, but he has moved on to add real estate investments to his alluring career portfolio, increasing his financial status in the process.

How Keith Murdoch Laid The Foundation on Which His Son Has Built a Media Empire

Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch was born in Melbourne, Colony of Victoria, Australia on August 12th, 1885. As a teenager, he started plying his trade in journalism, forfeiting college in the process. He first worked as a district correspondent for an Australian newspaper called The Age owned by David Syme. Keith later returned to school, enrolling for part-time studies at the London School of Economics before beginning a full-time journalism career in 1909.

Three years later, the older Murdoch joined Sydney Sun working as its Melbourne political correspondent. He moved on to work as the managing editor of the London cable service managed by Melbourne Herald and the Sun in 1915. By writing influential journalistic pieces that focused on political controversy, Keith Murdoch expanded cable service in London. He became the editor in chief of the Herald in 1921 before going ahead to buy the publishing firm’s competitor, the Evening Sun. He also acquired newspapers in Australia, including The Register, Adelaide Advertiser, and Adelaide News. More so, Rupert Murdoch’s father had a stake in the Daily Mail and News Limited. By 1935, he had worked his way to get the Herald broadcast time on 11 radio stations. As the chairman of the Herald Group, he founded the Herald Chair of Fine Arts at the University of Melbourne.

Before his demise, Keith signed an agreement with the Herald board to buy majority stakes in the Adelaide newspapers. After he died of cancer in 1952, his family inherited News Limited which served as proprietors of the Adelaide News as Rupert’s father’s stake in the Herald was liquidated to pay taxes. At the age of 22, Rupert Murdoch started building his net worth by running the Australian newspaper. He turned around the fortune of the family business by accumulating a portfolio of newspapers worth millions of dollars.

Through News Corp, Rupert Murdoch Has Established Hundreds of Publishing Outlets

Rupert Murdoch graduated from Worcester College, Oxford with a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He subsequently earned a Master of Arts degree from Oxford University before moving to the Daily Express where he worked as a sub-editor for two years. He took over his family’s newspaper business after the death of his father and turned it into a major success by acquiring major Australian newspapers, expanding the business in the process. He renamed News Limited to News Pty Limited and made it the holding company of News Corp Australia which is a subsidiary of the parent company, News Corporation.

Before News Corporation’s split in 2013 to create 21st Century Fox, the multinational mass media corporation was the fourth biggest media group in the world based on revenue. Its main holding company before the corporate spin-off includes News Limited in Australia, News International in the United Kingdom, Dow Jones & Company in America, HarperCollins, and the Fox Entertainment Group. By 2002, the corporation was worth $5 billion and had established more than 800 companies in over 50 countries. News Corp gathered a revenue of $9 billion in 2020 and has total assets worth $14.26 billion.

Besides the aforementioned assets of News Corp, other of its assets include New York Post which Rupert Murdoch bought in the year 1976, REA Group, and Tremor Video. Here’s a look at some of the subsidiaries of the media and publishing company.

News Corp Australia

One of the largest media conglomerates in Australia, News Limited, was the major holding company for Rupert Murdoch’s business interest for several years. Following the establishment of News Corporation in 1979, News Limited became a sub-unit of the corporation and was renamed News Corp Australia. By acquiring daily and suburban newspapers in Australia, Murdoch became known as one of the dynamic media proprietors in the country. He first acquired The Daily Mirror before launching the first national daily newspaper in Australia – The Australian.

News Limited further bought a controlling stake in The Daily Telegraph in 1972. Later in 1987, it bought over The Herald and Weekly Times which was publishing two newspapers in Melbourne and subsequently merged to form The Herald Sun. Also, the company acquired big stakes in newspaper publishers such as Davies Brothers in Hobart, Queensland Newspapers in Brisbane, and Advertiser Newspapers in Adelaide. Currently, News Corp Australia runs 170 newspapers in the country. They include The Sunday Telegraph, The Courier-Mail, Messenger Newspapers, The Mercury, The Chronicle, NewsMail, Townsville Bulletin, and The Western Star among others.

As of 2019, The Australian has recorded a readership of 2.39 million for both print and online editions. The Herald Sun, on the other hand, has a readership of over 1.2 million and with a daily distribution of 350,000 copies, it is Australia’s highest-circulating daily newspaper. Additionally, the Daily Telegraph’s total monthly readership for its print and digital editions is 4.5 million. As a magazine publisher, News Corp Australia owns Vogue Australia, GQ Australia, Australian Golf Digest, Delicious, and Vogue Living. The conglomerate has a 65 percent ownership stake in Foxtel (owner of Fox Sports Australia) and equally, the Australian digital real estate information platform, REA Group.

News Corp UK & Ireland Limited

Previously known as News International and NI Group, News Corp UK & Ireland Limited is a British newspaper publisher. As one of the 100 percent owned subsidiaries of News Corp, the company which is also known as News UK serves as the publisher of widely read newspapers in the United Kingdom such as The Sun newspapers, The Times, and The Sunday Times. Some of its defunct newspapers include News of the World, Today, and The London Paper newspapers. Today was the first national newspaper to be printed in color in the UK and was in operation from 1987 to 1995.

In 2005, News International gathered $415 million from the sales of its sub-unit, TSL Education that served as publisher of Times Education Supplement and Times Higher Education. It retained The Times Literary Supplement as part of the deal. The newspaper publisher has two major subsidiaries namely News Group Newspapers and Times Newspapers Ltd. The latter publishes The Sunday Times and The Times while the former publishes The Sun. The first newspaper to be launched by News International was The London Paper but it was closed down in September 2009.

Popular for inventing modern tabloids in the publishing industry, Rupert Murdoch converted The Sun to a tabloid newspaper in 1969. Not until 2018, it was the highest-circulating daily newspaper in the Uk but was later surpassed by Metro. It has an average daily circulation of 1.2 million as of February 2020. The Sun on Sunday was launched as a replacement for the shuttered News of the World. More so, in January 2019, the British daily national newspaper, The Times recorded an average daily circulation of over 417 thousand copies while The Sunday Times had an average weekly circulation of over 712 thousand copies.

Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Formerly led by the Bancroft family for more than a century, Dow Jones & Company was purchased by News Corp in 2007 in a deal worth $5 billion. The publishing company has gained a good reputation over the years for its ability to break down complex financial information to the public. It serves as publishers of top-notch newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, Financial News, MarketWatch, Private Equity News, and Barron’s. In the year 2009, the publishing firm recorded a net income of $386.5million, and ten years later, it generated $1.5 billion in revenue.

Presently led by Almar Latour as the chief executive officer, the company’s flagship publication, The Wall Street Journal, has 12 versions which are published in nine languages, including Japanese, English, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, and German. Considered among the United States’ largest newspapers by circulation, Wall Street Journal has a daily circulation of 2.83 million as of August 2019 which includes digital sales of 1.82 million. For its outstanding work in journalism, the journal has claimed over 38 Pulitzer Prizes since it was founded.

After moving to the United States in the late ’70s, Murdoch made his first newspaper purchase in the country by acquiring the San Antonio Express-News. Then in the ’80s, he bought New York Post and New York Magazine, though he sold the latter in the early 1990s. More so, the intelligent entrepreneur purchased HarperCollins for $300 million in 1987 and has turned it into one of the largest publishing companies in the world.

He Earns Massively From His Investments in Television

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox network is often considered the pioneer of the cable TV revolution. The businessman started building his Fox empire after buying a 50 percent stake in 20th Century Fox for $250 million in the ’80s. He eventually created many television stations, revolutionizing cable TV in the process. He then handed leadership roles to his sons, Lachlan and James Murdoch, who served as the executive chairman and chief executive officer of 21st Century Fox respectively before its major assets were sold to Walt Disney in 2019.

Following the sales, Fox Corporation was created with the remaining assets and the mass media company started trading its stock on the NASDAQ stock market. It is now divided into Fox Entertainment, Fox Television Stations, Fox Sports Media Group, and Fox News Media. Some of its subsidiaries include Fox Broadcasting Company, Tubi, and Credible Labs. For the 2020 fiscal year, the mass media corporation reported revenue of $12.3 billion, operating income of $2.59 billion, and net income of $999 million. This, of course, contributes to the increase of Rupert Murdoch’s net worth.

Furthermore, prior to the purchase of Sky Plc by Comcast in November 2018, Rupert Murdoch had a controlling stake of 39.14 percent in the company through the 21st Century Fox. He tried to buy the remaining stake in the British media and telecommunications conglomerate but with his reputation being marred by the News International scandal, the deal was not successful. Before the sales, Sky Plc emerged as the largest digital pay television company in the United Kingdom in 1990 after merging with British Satellite Broadcasting to form BSkyB.

After Fox was beaten by Comcast in a blind auction for Sky Plc with a bid of £17.28 per share, it sold its remaining stake in the company to Comcast for £12 billion.

The Media Magnate Made Over 71 Billion From Selling Majority of His Fox Entertainment Group Assets in 2019

Following the formation of 21st Century Fox in the year 2013 as a spin-off of the publishing assets of News Corporation, the company traded on NASDAQ as FOXA or FOX and later emerged as the fourth-largest media conglomerate in the United States. It had two divisions; Fox Entertainment Group Division and Fox Networks Group, as well as multiple subsidiaries including Star India, Tata Sky, Endemol Shine Group, and TrueX. The multinational mass media corporation generated a revenue of $30.4 billion in 2018, racking up a net income of $4.46 billion and operating income of $4.41 billion with its total assets estimated at $53.83 billion.

In the next year, on March 20th, Rupert Murdoch sold most of 21st Century Fox entertainment assets to Walt Disney Company for $71.3 billion. The assets include FX Networks, 20th Century Fox, and National Geographic Partners. Other mass media assets like Sky Plc was sold to Comcast (owner of NBCUniversal), while FSN regional sports networks were acquired by the Sinclair Broadcast Group. The remaining 21st Century assets which comprise mainly of Fox’s national broadcasting, news and sports, TV stations operations as well as the Fox and MyNetworkTV networks spun off to form Fox Corporation in March 2019.

Other of His Activities in Europe and Asia

Beyond expanding his media empire in Australia, United Kingdom, and the United States, Rupert Murdoch has established many media outlets in Europe and Asia. He serves as the owner of a satellite television provider in Italy called Sky Italia. Through News Corporation, the media mogul bought a 35 percent stake in South China Morning Post in 1986 for $105 million. In the next year, the corporation completed full take over of the publishing company and later sold a 34.9 percent stake to Robert Kuok’s Kerry Media for $350 million in 1993. Murdoch sold off his remaining stake in the company to MUI Group in 1994.

Furthermore, News Corporation moved on to acquire Star TV in Hong Kong for $1 billion in 1993. Murdoch subsequently launched subsidiaries for the company in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and East Asia. Star TV was renamed Star in 2001 and in 2009, its spin-off, Star India was created under News Corporation.

List of Some of The Companies Owned by Rupert Murdoch and His Roles in Them

  • News Corporation (founder and executive chairman)
  • Fox Corporation (Founder and chairman)
  • 21st Century Fox (Founder and former executive chairman)
  • Sky News Australia (Owner)
  • Star and Star India (Owner)
  • HarperCollins Publishers LLC (Owner)
  • The New York Post (Owner)
  • The Wall Street Journal (Owner)
  • The Times (Owner)
  • The Sun, The Sun on Sunday, The Scottish Sun, and The Irish Sun (Owner)

The Billionaire Businessman Has Been Investing in Real Estate For Several Years

Over the years, real estate investments have contributed to the exponential growth in Rupert Murdoch’s net worth. In 2003, he purchased an 11 bedroom house in Centre Island, New York. Later in 2011, he shelled out $23 million from his pocket to buy a 12,000 square foot Georgian townhouse in New York. Also, Murdoch purchased an 8,000 square foot mansion in Bel Air, Los Angeles for $28.8 million in 2013. The property has more than 16 acres of land of which 13 are vineyards. In the next year, he purchased a four-story penthouse in the One Madison Park building very close to Madison Square Park, New York City for $57.25 million.

Rupert Murdoch net worth
(Image Source)

He later listed the apartment for $72 million and it’s still unclear if he presently owns the four-story apartment. Between 2012 and 2014, News Corp founder reportedly bought three units in the Porter House building in New York City for $12.85 million and later listed them for a sum of $22 million. Rupert Murdoch subsequently moved his investment to England. In 2019, along with his wife Jerry Hall, he bought an eighteenth-century home and estate, Holmwood in Binfield Health situated in South Oxfordshire, England. The Australian native reportedly sold his home in Beverly Hills to his son, James Murdoch for $30 million in the year 2015.

Summary of Rupert Murdoch’s Income Sources

  • News Corporation
  • Fox Corporation
  • 21st Century Fox (previously owned)
  • Real estate investments

With a Net Worth of $22.2 Billion, Rupert Murdoch is The 80th Richest Billionaire in The World

Having developed a winning business strategy of buying competitors and selling controversy through his tabloids, Rupert Murdoch became one of the richest people in media in the mid-1980s. He first made the Forbes 400 list in the year 1985 when his estimated fortune was $300 million. At the time, he had only acquired a chain of newspapers. They included The Times, The Sun, and News of the World in the United Kingdom, as well as The Chicago Sun-Times, and the New York Post in the United States.

Through the heavy expansion of his businesses around the world and the purchase of multiple TV stations, Rupert Murdoch’s net worth rose to $3.9 billion in the year 1996. He then added $1.7 billion to his total wealth in the next year following the initial public offering of Fox Entertainment Group which spun off from the parent company, News Corp. The IPO emerged as the third biggest in the history of America at the time. The billionaire entrepreneur further jacked up his worth to $5 billion in 2002, thanks to the establishment of Fox News which became one of the highly-rated cable news networks in the country.

By 2013, after founding 21st Century Fox, Murdoch was worth $10 billion. He continued growing his net worth in the subsequent years and accumulated an estimated fortune of $13.1 billion in 2017. As a result, he was ranked by Forbes as the 96th wealthiest person in the world and the 34th wealthiest person in the United States. Then in 2019, Rupert Murdoch & family had a net worth of $19.1 billion which got them ranked 52nd on the Forbes list of world’s billionaires. Although the family’s net worth increased by $3.1 billion in 2021, they ended up ranking 80th on Forbes’ annual list of the world’s billionaires.

Highlights of Rupert Murdoch’s Net Worth Milestones

  • 1985 – $300 million
  • 1996 – $3.9 billion
  • 2002 – $5 billion
  • 2013 – $10 billion
  • 2017 – $13.1billion
  • 2019 – $19.1 billion
  • 2021 – $22.7 billion

A Peek at The Controversies His Companies Has Courted Over The Years

From 2006 to 2011, Rupert Murdoch’s company, News International was constantly accused of phone-hacking and this greatly tainted Murdoch’s image in England. In 2009, it was revealed by The Guardian that News International’s journalists access stories on many occasions using illicit methods which include hacking of the mobile phones of celebrities and politicians, as well as the bribery of police. Also, The Guardian disclosed that the British newspaper publisher has paid at least £1 million in settlement of legal cases involving their journalists.

It was also revealed in July 2011 that News of the World used a private investigator to hack into the phone of Amanda Dowler, an English schoolgirl who was murdered in March 2002. Consequently, there was a public outcry against News International and Rupert Murdoch. This forced him to resign from his role as the director of News Corporation. Then on July 10th, 2011, News of the World was closed down. At the time of its closure, the red tabloid newspaper was one of the highest circulated English newspapers and had once been the highest-selling English newspaper in the world. In October 2010, the newspaper had a weekly circulation of 2.81 million copies.

As a result of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, Murdoch’s News Corp was subsequently investigated by the UK police, FBI, and Australian Federal Police. Additionally, Sky News Australia has been heavily criticized over the years for having a strong affinity towards right-wing politics. On the other hand, Fox Broadcasting Company has been criticized by the Parents Television Council for its popular shows having indecent contents. They include Arrested Development, Prison Break, and Married…with Children

In September 2020, one of News Corp’s subsidiaries, HarperCollins, filed a lawsuit against actress Lindsay Lohan for collecting a $350,000 advance for a book deal of penning a tell-all memoir which she never executed.

Chioma Uchenwoke
Chioma Uchenwoke
Apart from content writing in the area of entertainment, personal finance and celebrity net worth, Chioma’s main interests are movies, football, music and books. She has been writing professionally for about 2 years in these fields


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