Media: Perspective - Murdoch’s plan to embrace the web may prove too late

Panic is not a characteristic that one would associate with the steely Rupert Murdoch. Unless it’s the panic that the man inspires in the bowels of his underlings whenever his plane touches down on their turf. But it seems that Mr Murdoch has begun to experience some unnerving professional misgivings.

Panic is not a characteristic that one would associate with the

steely Rupert Murdoch. Unless it’s the panic that the man inspires in

the bowels of his underlings whenever his plane touches down on their

turf. But it seems that Mr Murdoch has begun to experience some

unnerving professional misgivings.



A few days ago, he confided that his company’s prospects have been

transformed in the past month or two - and not for the better. He’s

concerned.



The reason for the alarm is the growing stronghold that new-media

companies have on the news and entertainment markets where Murdoch has

established his business base. The AOL Time Warner merger has undermined

his global positioning, and Murdoch has admitted: ’A lot of us used to

be big fish in a big pond, now we are all minnows with two huge sharks.’

Those sharks are AOL and Microsoft, and it is not hard to see why

Murdoch is a little rattled.



Murdoch has been relatively slow to spot the opportunities of new media.

He is now throwing millions at the web, but more canny, if less

experienced, operations have beaten Murdoch to the new-media mega

bucks.



In trailing the likes of AOL, has Murdoch left himself exposed?

Definitely, which is why the past few days have seen a scramble to catch

up. The new-media fuelled mega mergers have sent Murdoch’s business

spinning to the global sidelines and now he’s in defence mode. Last

week’s financial results from BSkyB trumpeted a pounds 250 million

investment in the internet, which the City rewarded with a 19 per cent

increase in the share price. Then there’s a new alliance with Vodafone

to be in at the start of the wireless application protocol revolution.To

top it all, Murdoch has now unveiled plans to consolidate his global

satellite interests into a single company which will provide a new web

service via satellite. Nevertheless, in a rare admission of weakness,

Murdoch acknowledged last week that he is having to work harder than

ever ’so that we don’t become a breakfast snack for these other big

companies’.



The strength of Murdoch’s content (sports and movies) and the investment

in new media suggest that if the sharks do get Murdoch, he will now

prove rather more meaty victual. But his comments do throw the decision

to refer the planned Carlton and United tie-up to the Monopolies

Commission into harsh relief. If an international player and, in many

ways, a pioneering one like Murdoch considers himself a minnow, what

hope do our home-grown media companies - still so parochial in their

outlook and asset base - have of survival when the sharks start

circling?



The Carlton/United merger must be examined in the light of global

consolidation.



But even if the merger gets past the regulators, the new company will

have to swim furiously to survive.



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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).