News Corp shake-up sees Thomson in key role in newspapers

Rupert Murdoch with Robert Thomson
Rupert Murdoch with Robert Thomson
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RUPERT Murdoch has unveiled a shake up at his News Corporation empire, folding its digital newspaper and appointing leaders for the new publishing arm.

Former Times editor Robert Thomson will head the group’s publishing business, which is being separated from its entertainment assets in a move to satisfy shareholders pressing the company to shed its troubled newspapers.

Thomson, a Murdoch confidant, is currently the managing editor of the Wall Street Journal and editor in chief of its publisher, Dow Jones & Co.

BSkyB chief operating officer Mike Darcey becomes chief executive of News International, the UK division that publishes the Times, the Sun and the Sunday Times.

The publishing business, which includes book arm HarperCollins, will retain the name News Corporation. The media and entertainment company, which began in earnest when Murdoch acquired 20th Century Fox and launched the Fox Network more than 25 years ago, will be named Fox Group.

Murdoch will remain chairman and chief executive of Fox, and will be chairman of the much smaller News Corporation.

He said: “This is an incredibly exciting time, for me personally, and for our companies’ ambitious futures. The challenges we face in the publishing and media industries are great, but the opportunities are greater.”

Murdoch said the group could not find enough readers quickly enough for the Daily, the digital-only newspaper which was launched in early 2011 exclusively on Apple’s iPad.

Murdoch had claimed “new times demand new journalism” when the Daily was launched in the US. It was released in the UK in September 2011.

The app featured news articles, interactive graphics, HD videos and 360-degree photos designed to work with the iPad’s touchscreen.

The technology and other assets from the Daily, including some staff, are being folded into the New York Post. The digital publication’s founding editor, Jesse Angelo, will become publisher of the Post.

Murdoch said: “From its launch, the Daily was a bold experiment in digital publishing and an amazing vehicle for innovation.

“Unfortunately, our experience was that we could not find a large enough audience quickly enough to convince us the business model was sustainable in the long term.

“Therefore, we will take the very best of what we have learned at the Daily and apply it to all our properties.”

The publication will close on 15 December.

Other key executives who will play a role in the publishing company include Paul Cheesbrough, who will continue as chief technology officer, and Bedi Ajay Singh, the president of MGM Studios, who will become chief financial officer.

Gerard Baker, deputy editor in chief, will succeed Thomson. The company did not name the News Corp board members.

News International’s current chief executive Tom Mockridge is to leave his role at the end of December to “pursue outside opportunities”.