Phone-Hacking Scandal Causes News Corp. Power Shift

Monday, 18 Jul 2011 03:49 PM

By James Hirsen

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The Hollywood business community can’t help but be engrossed in the developments of the News Corp. News of the World scandal.

The vast mass media empire of Rupert Murdoch includes some of the most powerful companies in the entertainment industry. Movie production and distribution giants Fox Filmed Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox Film and the TV production corporation 20th Century Fox Television are a significant part of News Corp.’s entertainment media muscle.

Throw into the mix the Fox Broadcasting Company, the Fox Television Stations group, and the assorted attendant cable operations and the result is a conglomerate that the major Hollywood players are obliged to watch closely.

With potential and ongoing investigations here and abroad, legal entanglements hovering in criminal and civil courts, and resignations of high-ranking executives being submitted, it is clear that News Corp. will not be the same after the dust of the phone-hacking scandal settles.

However, one particular individual, a key executive in the company, may ultimately emerge as one of the most powerful people in the media.

Chase Carey has been an employee of News Corp since 1988. He has held the position of COO of Fox, Inc., and CEO of Fox Broadcasting. He also assisted in the launch of Fox Sports and Fox News. Currently, he is deputy chairman, president and COO of News Corp.

Carey took over the posts after the Hollywood insider Peter Chernin exited in 2009.

Until the scandal broke, Rupert’s youngest son, James, was widely viewed as the heir apparent to Murdoch’s media throne. But now with James Murdoch being targeted by the U.K. investigations, Carey seems to be the emergent No. 2 guy, right behind 80-year-old Rupert.

Reports indicated that Carey was the executive who along with Murdoch made the decisions to close down News of the World and abandon the BSkyB bid.

Wall Street sources reported that Carey initiated the recent sale of MySpace and the buyback of News Corp stock.

Carey is purportedly an advocate of splitting up the holdings of News Corp, with the newspapers in one autonomous entity and the film, broadcast, and cable companies in another.

Unlike his predecessor and most Hollywood power players, Carey is not into glam or the chic nightlife scene.

The Los Angeles Times seemed to express a sort of Left Coast disappointment that this potential power player possessed some conventional traits and downhome desires.

“Carey’s idea of the perfect night is a six-pack and a Yankees game,” the newspaper said. “Unlike Chernin, who enjoyed the glitz of the entertainment industry, Carey ducks the limelight and seldom pops up on the fundraiser and award-show circuit.”

Wall Street, on the other hand, apparently likes what it sees in Carey and finds comfort in his business focus and negotiation track record.

James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. He is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court. Hirsen is the co-founder and chief legal counsel for Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood:

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