Slate: Murdoch “lies” about China

May 25, 2007

Murdoch in Beijing 2002 (Reuters)Slate’s acerbic media critic Jack Shafer has charged News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch with revising the history of his dealings with China in an interview with the Financial Times this week.

Shafer says the smoking gun comes from a story penned by Murdoch biographer William Shawcross for Esquire magazine, and picked up by the FT in 1994.

Murdoch’s track record in China is now being scrutinized after bidding to buy Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones for $5 billion amid heavy criticism from some shareholders and the former chairman of Dow Jones.

Critics say his record of placating the Chinese government to gain a stronger foothold in the market in the mid-nineties forebodes similar handling at the Journal, which just received a Pulitzer prize for its coverage of the region. (The reporters on the award-winning China series oppose Murdoch’s bid too.)

Shafer’s critique centers on Murdoch dropping the BBC from his company’s satellite TV operations in China, Star TV, and spiking a book about the region written by Britain’s last governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten.

Shafer: “Rupert Murdoch has grown so desperate in his attempt to buy Dow Jones and its Wall Street Journal that he’ll tell any lie he thinks will help.”

He then lines up his evidence:

Murdoch in the FT on May 24, 2007 on dropping the BBC: “Star was losing Dollars 100m per year; we had to pay Dollars 10m per year to the BBC. I said ‘Let them pay it themselves’, and they did. We also cancelled two other third-party channels – MTV and Prime Sports. At that stage we never ever had any request from anybody in China. Indeed, there was no discourse at all.”

Murdoch in the FT June 14, 1994 pickup of Esquire: “They say it’s a cowardly way, but we said in order to get in there and get accepted, we’ll cut the BBC out.” (“get in there” refers to China)

A News Corp spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Comments are closed.