Profiles of Murdochs and Rebekah Brooks

19th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch, his son James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive of News Corp.'s British subsidiary News International, will be grilled Tuesday by British lawmakers.

Here are their profiles:


The Australian-born tycoon heads the powerful News Corp. media empire but at the age of 80 is facing his toughest battle yet as he grapples with the crisis engulfing the group.

The phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World has already caused the closure of the paper, which was Britain's biggest selling weekly, and put an end to Murdoch's bid to take full control of pay-TV giant BSkyB.

His media group will now come in for further unwelcome scrutiny when he is questioned by British lawmakers.

Michael Wolff, who wrote a biography of Murdoch, predicted that the tycoon, who is quite publicity-shy given that he owns a good chunk of the world's media, would not do well.

"He will handle it very poorly," Wolff told Britain's ITV television News.

"It is very likely he will get angry. He will say things that people should not say in public."

After inheriting two small Australian newspapers at a young age, Murdoch returned in 1969 to Britain, where he had previously studied at Oxford, and took control of the News of the World, gaining a high-profile foothold in the British media.

He transformed that and The Sun into Britain's biggest selling newspapers and expanded his empire in 1981 with the acquisition of newspapers The Times and The Sunday Times.

His papers reflected his rightwing views and for years he supported Britain's Conservative party, until in 1997 Labour party leader Tony Blair succeeded in winning the coveted endorsement of The Sun to help him become prime minister.

But his successor as Labour leader and premier, Gordon Brown, proved a disappointment for the Murdoch empire, and The Sun and the News of the World switched their allegiance back to the Conservatives before last year's general election.

News Corp. boasted assets worth $57 billion (40 billion euros, £36 billion) in 2010 across its television, book publishing, Internet and newspaper businesses, including the Wall Street Journal, and conservative US media outlets such as Fox News.


James Murdoch, 38, is the youngest son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch and heir apparent to the News Corp. media empire.

But any hope of a smooth handover from father to son and a seamless continuation of the Murdoch dynasty now seems in tatters after the spiralling phone-hacking scandal of the past fortnight.

James Murdoch oversaw the closure of the 168-year-old British weekly tabloid News of the World a fortnight ago amid revelations the paper hacked into phones of a murdered teenager and relatives of dead British soldiers.

But the shock move did little to halt a fast-moving crisis, which has only seemed to to get closer to James Murdoch.

The scandal moved into Rupert Murdoch's inner circle with the resignation of Rebekah Brooks as chief executive of News Corp.'s British newspaper arm News International last week, and her arrest on suspicion of phone-hacking on Sunday.

James Murdoch has been News Corp.'s chief operating officer since March 2011 as well as chief executive of the news and entertainment giant.

He is the fourth child of Australian-born Rupert Murdoch's six children, and the third and last child his father had with his second wife, Anna.

After his promotion in March, James Murdoch moved from London to New York and began reporting to president and chief operating officer Chase Carey.

In his youth, James was considered a rebel with his earrings, baggy pants and platinum blond hair. Today he sports metal glasses and short hair and is married to an American with whom he has two children.


Fiery redhead Rebekah Brooks, 43, was once a star of British journalism, a protegee of Rupert Murdoch who rose fast up the ladder and conquered the macho world of the tabloid press.

But her fall from grace has been swift.

Under huge pressure over the phone-hacking scandal which felled the News of the World paper she once edited, Brooks finally gave up her job as chief executive of News International -- Murdoch's British newspaper wing -- on Friday.

Just two days later, she was arrested on suspicion of phone hacking and is now free on bail.

Brooks took the helm at the News of the World in 2000 and stirred up controversy with a series of populist newspaper campaigns including one calling on people to "name and shame" paedophiles living in their neighbourhoods.

In 2003, she became the first female editor of The Sun, the News of the World's sister paper and Britain's biggest selling daily, and in 2009, she left The Sun to become chief executive of News International.

Her turbulent marriage to the star of a British soap opera also saw her receive attention from other tabloids.

She was part of Murdoch's inner circle and her loss will have been a heavy blow to the ageing media mogul.

When Murdoch flew into Britain two weeks ago to take personal control of the crisis, he gave her a public show of support.

The pair were pictured smiling together, and when Murdoch was asked what his priority was, he gestured towards Brooks and said: "This one." But it was no enough to save her.

She came under pressure over one of the most shocking recent allegations, that an investigator working for the the News of the World hacked into the phone of a murdered teenager, which allegedly took place when she was editing the paper.

© 2011 AFP

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