COLUMN: The Disney-Fox Merger and Where Rupert Murdoch Goes from Here
Back in 1931, Rupert Murdoch was born in Australia – and boy, has he left an indelible mark in the media industry. His father – a newspaper magnate – would eventually put him in charge of his media empire. In addition to newspapers, he eventually acquired a slew of television stations, as well as the iconic movie studio 20th Century Fox (then owned by oil magnate Marvin Davis).
The 86-year-old mogul eventually took advantage of his Fox acquisition to start up a fourth broadcast television network in 1987 – the Fox Broadcasting Company, which has been a colossal success, spurring the launch of a popular cable news channel and a sports division, not to mention being in the Saturday Morning cartoon business for 11 years through a partnership with Power Rangers creator and Univision owner Haim Saban.
And now, as demonstrated back in December, Murdoch has decided to sell 20th Century Fox as well as other entertainment assets to Disney in order to focus on his empire’s successful broadcast, news, and sports operations. It definitely makes a lot of business sense.
But, here’s what’s really interesting about this… The day the deal between Disney and Fox was announced, Murdoch said this on the Fox Business Network:
There’s only Must See Fox News and Must See Fox Business. Entertainment is more and more non-linear. We see that in the way people watch the broadcast networks. There is no loyalty to them, there’s loyalty to individual programs. And you get certain ratings. You put it on a certain time, the end of the week that will have doubled. The end of a month it probably redoubled again. So, it’s very hard to monetize that with advertising.
Ah… No loyalty to broadcast networks, isn’t that fascinating? That can probably be a minor reason why trust in mass media is at an all time low, especially when it comes to network newscasts and the propaganda seen in prime time on these same networks.
And that especially includes cable networks like Disney’s own Freeform, the teen-oriented network formerly known as ABC Family whose original drama The Fosters – which is set to end this summer – recently smeared the border patrol and ICE as inhumane monsters:
On a personal note from a Disney shareholder, this is very stunning. A successful media mogul selling the very motion picture studio responsible for the founding of a fourth network to an already gigantic Walt Disney Company in order to focus on news, sports, and live programming.
As stated in my last column, this will be very beneficial to both Disney and the Murdoch family in the long run. In the case of Disney especially, this will help them rely even less on their liberal broadcast and cable operations (which have already alienated a majority of Americans), and focus more on movies and theme parks – the operations that actually make them money, especially because of their plans to launch a streaming service for all of their content next year.
On a side note, this won’t go well with those in the animation community – who need to understand that Disney is solely in the moneymaking business. They may want them to bring back the 2D animation art form, but it doesn’t distract from the fact that it hasn’t made them dough for years – even when they tried to bring it back (that pesky thing called the free marketplace always gets in the way of everything, doesn’t it?).
As for Murdoch, it will let him focus on what he does best – news and opinions that are – as an old slogan went – “Fair and Balanced”. Again, we’ll see how the merger goes. Let’s hope it goes well for both parties.