Murdoch’s Poison Pillory

A couple of years ago, Rupert Murdoch orchestrated the adoption of a “poison pill” that would act as an obstacle to any investor that sought to wrest control of News Corp. from the Murdoch family. John Malone of Liberty Media, who had been buying up shares of News Corp., was the unnamed target of this ploy. Liberty Media is a holding company that investments in media properties like QVC, Encore, and Inter/Active Corp.

Now the measure is up for renewal and there are those who would like to see it expire. The Murdoch family presently controls about 30% of News Corp.’s stock. Liberty has about 19%. If shareholders vote against the pill, it could result in Murdoch losing the iron grip he has on the company.

On a partisan basis, Malone may not be much better than Murdoch. He is a reliable source of contributions for the Republican party. Still, there is little evidence that he is as strident an advocate, or as willing to taint programming with his biases. Plus, it would just be a delicious irony if Murdoch’s megalomaniacal greed resulted in his being toppled from his throne.

There is something you can do. If you own shares of News Corp. vote them against renewing the pill. If you own funds that invest in News Corp. contact the portfolio managers and advise them that you would like for them to vote against it. Institutional investors are already amongst those who are inclined to oppose the measure.

But don’t waste any time because the vote is this Friday. This is an election that you can have a real impact on before that other election coming up in November. And if there were a significant shift in the journalistic philosophy of a media giant like News Corp., it would have a noticeably more far reaching effect than any electoral shift could ever have.