Thursday, 26 February 2009

The Invisible Noose

From the desk of Rupert Murdoch:

February 23, 2009

Dear Colleagues:

...As you all know the downturn we are operating in is more severe and global than anything we have seen before. No company is immune to its effects. I want to take this opportunity, today, to write to you about how we will manage such an important leadership transition, and why I am convinced that today our company is not only well-positioned financially and competitively, but is on the cusp of a new phase of growth. Remember, we began priming ourselves for a weakening economy over a year ago. We have managed expenses and capital expenditure prudently, and strengthened our balance sheet. Following the partial sale of NDS, we will have over five billion dollars in cash, and this year we should exceed $3.5 billion in adjusted operating income.

In the past, we have met downturns with vigor, often departing from the herd. We have emerged much stronger. (What a fantastic business opportunity the misery of millions is.)

Achieving our ambitions will require change and renewal. So throughout 2009, I will continue to work closely with all of our companies to make sure that we are organized and resourced in the best way to take advantage o f this extraordinary point in time. We will press our advantages and invest in our great franchises. And, of course, we will keep our eyes on big prizes, some of which may arise only once in a generation.

Across News Corp. we have a broad and deep reservoir of extremely able executives.

Over the years we have accomplished great things. People understand, and have acknowledged, our entrepreneurial spirit as well as our doggedness; our willingness to take risks, our contrarian investment style; and our commitment to long-term development and shareholder value. (Note the unsettling blend of Messianic 'phone bontos in ereme' and Chicago School economics.)

Many of you have told me how hungry you are to work more closely across our companies. Many of us have been frustrated by the things that can get in the way of that. From systems that don't talk to each other to incentives that struggle to capture the opportunity and aspiration of our total group. These obstacles are obvious to us all. There will be a streamlined management structure between our Los Angeles based business units and the rest of the company. Peter and I will be communicating more on this over the next few months. For the time being, of course, the talented executive team at the Fox Group will continue to report to Peter. (And, with an ever-greater international communications network which will, of course, need ever-greater policing, I spot a new surveillance opportunity.)

Now is also an ideal opportunity to streamline and enhance many of the corporate and administrative functions of the business. There will be cost savings as a result, but the more important aim is to be leaner so that we can better leverage our collective talent and expertise...

We have worked hard to develop and advance the best among us. The renewal of great companies begins within themselves. Pursuing an edge through superior talent is a priority. This will be a key focus for us in 2009.

In the coming months, I will be reaching out to you with new questions, and with new plans.

We are in the midst of a phase of history in which nations will be redefined and their futures fundamentally altered. Many people will be under extreme pressure and many companies mortally wounded. Our competitors will be sorely tempted to take the easy beat, to reduce quality in the search for immediate dividends. (Again, an absolute fusion of politics, Messianic rhetoric and laissez-faire economics. No distinction or disassociation between people and companies; in fact, implication of companies' 'personhood'.)

Let me be very clear about our company: where others might step back from their commitment to their viewers, their users, readers and customers -- we will renew ours.

The direction of the business now and over the next few years will define the character of our company for decades.

We have always thrived on change and challenge. ... The best things we have done, and there are many examples, have defied conventional wisdom, often in the teeth of fierce opposition and near universal disbelief in our capabilities.

Over the past 12 months I have spent time with you in India and China, in Italy and the UK and many other countries. We have brought Dow Jones into the fold, extended our influence in Europe, and been at the center of reporting the arrival of a new American president and the impact of the global financial crisis. We've told extraordinary stories, in theaters
(of war?) around the world and on page and screen from Mumbai to Malibu.

Our own international reach is a profound strength. We have intelligent, creative and highly motivated colleagues around the world who are ambitious for themselves, for their countries, for our customers and for our company. The result is that where others simply seek distribution, we are building durable businesses at scale. We are also creating large franchises in marketplaces that will grow at a faster pace in the coming years and, increasingly, our businesses are based on direct customer relationships..

We must always be acutely aware of our responsibility to shareholders, and to create real value for them. This is entirely consistent with, and in many case s inseparable from, the enormous social value we have created over the decades. We provide information and entertainment to billions, enabling them to improve their lives and those of their families. There is genuine value in the values of our company -- these are values that are even more important in a world confronting so much today (families and shareholders in the same paragraph, connoting equal responsibility to both and lack of distinction between the two entities) - 'all the world's a plasma screen and all its people shareholders')

We believe in communities. The very idea of community is broad, and encompasses interests that cross national, ethnic and demographic borders. We are all members of many different communities, whether it be of people who are passionate about Hollywood films, or care about living in a healthy environment, or use a local jobs website, or trade commodities in Chicago and London, relish soccer whether in China or Nigeria. These communities are our communities, as they read, evaluate and create everyday

That is why, most of all, I believe in the community that is our company.

Rupert Murdoch


***Note the Obama-like language. Having derided the President during the Race for the White House, Murdoch is now poaching Obama's trademark rhetorical finesse; in effect, turning a business memo into a political blueprint as he launches Operation Go [More] Global. He no longer runs a company but a 'community', blurring the distinction between the two entities: he is attempting to pass off NewsCorp as a society in itself, and a model one at that.
Several important points leap out:
* Firstly, that Murdoch positioned his empire to be ready for the downturn a year before it occurred - obviously, he did not believe it to be expedient to enable other companies to position themselves similarly in readiness; some would call this competition, others shockingly immoral, as tens of thousands have already lost their jobs;
* that he has taken upon himself a supreme moral status in 'improving lives' and 'creating social value' (manufacturing consent). Literally creating social value through the manipulation of the masses, presumably using Edward Bernays's 'Propaganda' as a handbook, in the quest to extend his invincible planet-encircling media stranglehold;
* that attempts to challenge his monopoly of the airwaves and newspapers, not to mention his expansion into music, film, sports and business have been dismissed on the basis that Murdoch is indeed 'improving lives' by 'acting in the public interest';
* that he intends to expand his news empire still further, meaning that potentially 50+% of the planet's news will be uniform;
* as the 'most powerful man in the world' it will certainly be his mission to carry on pushing for global centralization and strenuously opposing individual attempts to cling to nationhood.

The similarity between Murdoch and Frank Capra's character Jim Taylor in "Mr Smith Goes To Washington" is uncanny.

3 comments:

  1. A very nice spot of fisking there.

    If, as you say, Murdoch positioned his company prior to the 'fall then surely that shows a certain prescience not possessed by his competitors.

    I have to say though that I don't know enough about him or his activities to comment further.

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  2. I always thought this the international BBC of the NWO. Seems I was right.

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  3. The actual scope of Murdoch's empire is jaw-dropping: he possesses leverage on all 5 continents through news networks, entertainment, sports, stocks & shares, films, record labels, the ownership of sports teams; from Page 3, the Simpsons, the Times, News of the World, New York Post, Bloomberg, BSkyB, Twentieth Century Fox, Star India and the Wall Street Journal. Perhaps Citizen Kane is a closer analogy than Jim Taylor; the very fact that he sees the current crisis as a limitless potential is evocative of the Nuremburg rallies.

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Life is to be lived, not controlled, and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat -Ralph Ellison