Murdoch Names Film Chief as President of News Corp.
NEW YORK (AP) _ With an eye toward improving the content provided by his vast media empire, Rupert Murdoch has named his film chief, Peter Chernin, to the new post of News Corp. president.
The appointment announced Tuesday makes Chernin, 45, the No. 2. executive at News Corp., as well as chief operating officer and head of the company’s operations in North America.
The chairman of Fox Television Group, Chase Carey, will become co-chief operating officer.
While the move clearly elevates the two key executives, also appointing them to positions on News Corp.’s board of directors, Murdoch still retains the titles of chairman and chief executive officer.
``It’s still Murdoch’s game,″ said Dennis McAlpine, a media and entertainment analyst at Josephthal, Lyon & Ross Inc. ``As long as Murdoch’s there, I don’t think it makes a lot of difference who’s chief operating officer.″
In addition to television and movies, News Corp. also publishes the New York Post and other newspapers in Britain and Australia as well as magazines and books. It has annual revenue of more than $10 billion.
The management changes come as Murdoch is embroiled in a high-profile battle to get his new Fox News Channel carried on Time Warner Inc.’s cable systems, particularly in New York City. A Fox lawsuit against Time Warner is pending and the feud prompted Time Warner vice chairman Ted Turner to liken Murdoch to Adolf Hitler.
Chernin, in a telephone interview, said his appointment had nothing to do with that dispute.
``He just felt the company had become too big for him to run by himself and he needed some help,″ Chernin said. ``Two, he was looking to focus and put some real emphasis on the content side of the business, which essentially is what all my background is.″
Chernin, who has been with News Corp. for almost eight years, said he did not feel the promotion makes him heir apparent to Murdoch, who controls the Sydney, Australia-based company.
``He’s always been very clear to the press and also to me that his long-term desire is to see his kids move into running the company,″ Chernin said. ``I think that’s still his desire.″
Murdoch also announced Tuesday that son Lachlan Murdoch, the recently appointed managing director of News Ltd. in Australia, would become a board member of News Corp. with Chernin and Carey.
Daughter Elisabeth Murdoch, head of programming for the BSkyB satellite TV service, along with some others, will become members of News Corp.’s executive committee, Chernin said. Chernin, already a member of the committee, said he will become co-chairman along with the elder Murdoch.
Chernin will remain in Hollywood but said it has not yet been determined whether he will remain chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment, which includes the 20th Century Fox studio and its TV operations.