Robert Thomson formally announced as head of new publishing company
News Corp. offered a general sense Monday of what it will look like if it is allowed to split, including the new name for the company's TV and movie business.
Rupert Murdoch's newspaper empire will continue to be named News Corp. The company's television and film assets, however, are being christened Fox Group, Murdoch said. News Corp. hopes to separate into two independent, publicly traded companies at some point next year, but needs regulatory approval.
The company said Monday that Dow Jones editor-in-chief and Wall Street Journal managing editor Robert Thomson will become the chief executive officer of the new publishing entity.
The publishing company would be the smaller player now that it will be separated from 20th Century Fox studio and Fox's television networks. But it would still boasts an impressive number of brands. Among its portfolio will be the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal and News Corp.'s education division.
Missing from the lineup will be The Daily, the company's ambitious but failed attempt at an iPad- only newspaper. News Corp. said it will cease standalone publication of The Daily iPad app on Dec. 15. It said the brand will continue to live on in other channels and some staff will be moved into positions at the Post.
Murdoch would serve as chairman of the new News Corp. and chairman and CEO of Fox Group. Chase Carey would serve as president and chief operating officer of Fox Group, with James Murdoch continuing in his capacity as deputy chief operating officer.
“This is an incredibly exciting time, for me personally, and for our companies’ ambitious futures,” Rupert Murdoch said in a statement. “The challenges we face in the publishing and media industries are great, but the opportunities are greater.”
The split allows the company to protect its more valuable television and film assets from legal liabilities stemming from the phone hacking scandal at News Corp.'s British publications. Publicly, the company's executives have sounded a more positive note — stressing that the separation will allow its publishing properties to concentrate on making the often painful transition to digital forms of distribution without facing the quarterly pressures of being attached to a massive entertainment conglomerate.
Though Murdoch has made no secret of his fondness for newspapers, devoting enormous time and resources to refashioning the Wall Street Journal into a formidable adversary to the New York Times, they are less prized on bottom-line oriented Wall Street. Last year, News Corp. papers earned $864 million of News Corp.'s $4.85 billion in income.
In a memo to staff, Murdoch said the split will allow the various divisions greater flexibility to focus on their core strengths.
In addition to Thomson, News Corp. has named several other executives. Bedi Ajay Singh, who most recently served as president, finance and administration and chief financial officer at MGM Studios, will be the company's chief financial officer.
Paul Cheesbrough, currently News Corp.’s chief technology officer, will continue in the same role at the new publishing company. Pushed out in the overhaul, after being passed over for the top publishing job, is Tom Mockridge, the chief executive of Murdoch's British newspapers. He will step down as CEO of News International at the end of the year to pursue other opportunities, the company said.
Gerard Baker, currently deputy editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, will succeed Thomson as editor-in-chief of Dow Jones and managing editor of The Wall Street Journal.
The octogenarian Murdoch closed his message to staff outlining personnel changes by saying that the News Corp. overhaul signaled an exciting new chapter in its history.
"Change always breeds uncertainty, but let me be very clear about one thing that is certain: We aren’t finished achieving what others deem impossible," Murdoch wrote. "Not even close."
He drew on his own biography to stress his belief that there is a future for publishing, even if it no longer arrives with ink-stains.
"Many of you know that a belief in the power of the written word has been in my bones for my entire life," Murdoch wrote. "It began as I listened to my father’s stories from his days as a war correspondent and, later, a successful publisher. It deepened when, starting in grammar school, I rolled up my sleeves and worked alongside fellow students to publish school journals. I witnessed the hunger people had for well-written, thoroughly observed stories … stories that provide not just information, but insight. That hunger is alive and well today; my personal mission is to serve and satisfy the human need for insight as well as I possibly can."