Worse, they could be stifling News Corp.'s growth, actively hurting the company. For nearly sixty years, on and off, Murdoch has subsidized the news, taking profits from his other ventures to produce traditional ink-on-paper reporting -- and now, with the Daily, he's one of few leaders embracing a shift to a digital reading experience. But nobody believes that he will allow the entire company to be dragged under because of this scandal in the news division. And there are signs the phone-hacking stories are already crippling Murdoch's long-in-the-works bid for 61 percent of British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), a fabulously wealthy operation with more than 10 million subscribers.
If Murdoch closes News International, the division of his company that owns four -- now three -- papers across Great Britain and steps down from the top of News Corp.'s ladder in an attempt to clear the air so that a BSkyB deal might go through, who will take over?
There's a long history of grooming and nepotism in media. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., became the publisher and then chairman of the New York Times only after his father had readied him for the positions -- and stepped out of them himself. Similarly, S.I. Newhouse, Jr., took the reins of Advance Publications, which, among other things, owns Conde Nast, the publishing house responsible for the New Yorker, Vanity Fair and a number of other influential titles, when his father, the company's founder, moved on. And, continuing the tradition, it has long been suspected that James Murdoch would take over for his aging father, Rupert Murdoch, when Rupert could no longer handle the day-to-day operations at the top of News Corp., his massive media conglomerate that has been growing -- almost never shrinking, rarely static -- for decades.
He's only 38, but James Murdoch has had a long and successful career as the chairman and chief executive officer of News Corporation, Europe and Asia, overseeing all operations for News Corp. across those continents. There's little doubt that he would be a strong executive cut from the same aggressive cloth as his father. Just one problem: Thanks to a law that covers the "criminal liability of directors," James could face prosecution over whatever role he has played in the phone-hacking scandal, according to Business Insider's Henry Blodget. "James Murdoch is being groomed to take over the company when his
father retires. The threat of criminal prosecution, therefore, could
throw this succession plan into doubt."
Murdoch has other children, but they have never played significant roles in the development of News Corp. It's unlikely that any of them would be given the keys to the kingdom. Instead, expect the man pictured above, Chase Carey, to take over. As the president, deputy chairman and chief operating officer of News Corp., Carey knows how to run the operation. And, with all of those titles, we assume he's been playing a large role behind-the-scenes for years; it's hard, though, to step out from Murdoch's shadow.