Courtesy of Richard Siklos, Fortune’s media writer extraordinaire, who just posted this on the website on Tuesday:
“In the weeks that Rupert Murdoch was locked in unsuccessful negotiations to keep his longtime No. 2 at News Corp., the media baron also had to accept his daughter Elisabeth’s decision to turn down a spot on the company’s board, sources told Fortune.”
That’s exciting, from a soap-opera-meets-financial-news angle, because Murdoch is letting longtime right-hand man Peter Chernin leave the company, in part because the media baron has a sense of familial duty. That is to say, many people say he wants his children to take over the company. The most likely choice is his son James, 36, who is active in the company’s UK and Asian operations. Having said that, Elisabeth is no slouch in the media department.
Here’s Siklos again:
On the one hand she has a sense of duty and is one of four grown Murdoch children who will one day inherit the family’s controlling votes. But she also has a conflict of interest with Shine, the big U.K. production company she has built up over nearly seven years. Under U.K. broadcast regulations, Liz Murdoch’s presence on the News Corp. board would have rendered Shine illegible for the 25% of programming budgets that big British broadcasters like the BBC and Channel 4 are required to spend on independent production houses that have no links to broadcasters. Two people close to Murdoch said that this pool of funding represents a large proportion of Shine’s business, and that there are other advantages to being an independent producer that allow Shine to more easily retain the rights to formats it creates. Being on the News Corp. board would be a conflict for Shine because News controls British Sky Broadcasting, the big U.K. satellite TV business, as well as numerous Sky and Fox TV channels that air there. Liz Murdoch owns 63% of Shine and another big backer is Sony Pictures Entertainment, which has 20%.
Dad should understand. After all, it’s just business.