nettimes_roving_reporter on Sat, 9 Oct 1999 12:43:39 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Every step you take, Rupert will be there

Every step you take, Rupert will be there
Date: 09/10/99

By MARK RILEY, New York Correspondent

It is a solid hour of Rupert vision. A priceless peek at Murdoch's
millennium. A rare glimpse of the 21st Century fox.

And the audience is suitably captivated.

It is no mean feat, for this is no ordinary audience. Wedged into the
ballroom of New York's Grand Hyatt Hotel, pin-striped shoulder to
pin-striped shoulder, are 500 of the world's highest-powered media brokers,
stock analysts and investment bankers. They have brushed off the opening
bells down on Wall Street for the chance to take in a rare sermon from the
Count of Media, Rupert Murdoch. The Australian-born mogul has agreed to be
key note speaker on the final day of Goldman Sachs' annual media conference
and these seats in the bursting auditorium are New York's most valued
investment commodities of the day. It is the sort of audience that could
add a lazy few million dollars to the value of a company with the single
tap of a computer key. Or carve off a few million as easily as slicing
through their morning bagels.

It is the first time Murdoch has agreed to speak to them in six years and
his theme appears to be "accretion". Translated, that means growth -
"sustainable", "long-term", "dependable". It all means "money".

The brokers want to hear about the future of this accretion, about News
Corp 2000, what this enigmatic, adventurous, unorthodox tycoon sees beyond
the dazzling dawn of the digital age. His vision is pure, unadulterated,
wall-to-wall, 24-hour Murdochia. "Our view is that the successful media
company of the future is one that will touch consumers' lives throughout
the day, in every phase of their lives," he says. "We have structured our
company to meet those needs. We are reaching people from the moment they
wake up until they fall asleep. "We give them their morning weather and
traffic reports through our television outlets around the world. We
enlighten and entertain them with such newspapers as The New York Post and
The Times in London over breakfast or as they take the train to work. "We
update their stock prices and give them the world's biggest news stories
every day through such news channels as Fox or Sky News and their companion
Internet sites ... When they get home in the evening, we entertain them
with compelling, first-run entertainment on Fox or the day's biggest game
on our broadcast, satellite and cable networks, or the best movies from
20th Century Fox Films, if they want to see a first-run movie. "Before they
go to bed, we give them the latest news. Then, hopefully, they can fall in
to bed with one of our hundreds of new titles published every year through

And that's just the beginning. Murdoch sees the digital age, with its
satellite services and cable services and broadband, interactive,
multi-service services, as redefining the meaning of mass media. Diversity?
Sure thing. How would you like your Rupert vision? Television? Newspaper?
Film? Video? Internet? Telephone? Analog? Digital? Fox? Star? Sky? Soccer?
Gridiron? Rugby League - oh, well, he's still working on that one. The big
news, so one investment banker in the audience confides, is the strategic
alliance between Murdoch's TV Guide business and Gemstar International
Group. The "sale" (if you believe the New York Times) or "development" (if
you prefer Murdoch's view) has handed him the greatest conceivable
"platform" from which to launch his corporate arsenal of on-screen, on-line
content internationally.

"Consider this," says Murdoch, warming to his theme. "Through BSkyB [in
Britain], viewers on average consult Sky's electronic programming guide
seven times an hour. The average viewer, meanwhile, watches television five
hours a day. Assuming two viewers per television, that's 70 hits on the
guide per day." The brokers consider: that is a lot of advertising
opportunity. But what does it mean?

"Multiply that by 75 million US pay-TV households," says Murdoch.
"Liberally discount the number by 50 per cent, and you still have a site 10
times more popular than the next most popular site on the Web today."

They left the Grand Hyatt on Thursday morning with Rupert ringing in their

"I hope I have left you with at least a small sense of why we are so
bullish at the dawn of the new millennium," he had told them.

"... I have long believed that the race will go to the swift, to those with
enough vision to invest now in the creation of assets that will be
invaluable in the future ... investment that is scrupulously vetted to be
strategically aligned and to always give us a great accretion."

And there is no accretion like a great accretion.

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