News Corp Australia

News Corp Australia
Industry Mass media
Predecessor News Limited
Founded Adelaide, South Australia
1923 (1923)
Founder Sir Keith Murdoch
Headquarters Surry Hills, Sydney, Australia
Area served
Key people
Rupert Murdoch (Chairman)
Lachlan Murdoch (Director)
Peter Tonagh (CEO)
Michael Miller
(Executive Chairman)
Products Newspapers
Services Pay television
National Rugby League
Market research
DVD and film distribution
Film and television production
Owner News Corp
Subsidiaries Foxtel (50% with Telstra)
Brisbane Broncos (69%)

News Corp Australia (formerly News Limited) is one of Australia's largest media companies, employing more than 8,000 staff nationwide and approximately 3,000 journalists. The publicly listed company's interests span newspaper and magazine publishing, Internet, subscription television, market research, DVD and film distribution, and film and television production trading assets.[1]

News Corp Australia owns approximately 142 daily, Sunday, weekly, bi-weekly and tri-weekly newspapers, of which three are free commuter titles and 102 are suburban publications (including 16 in which News Corp Australia has a 50% interest). News Corp Australia publishes a nationally distributed newspaper in Australia, a metropolitan newspaper in each of the Australian cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth (Sundays only), Hobart and Darwin and groups of suburban newspapers in the suburbs of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. The company publishes a further thirty magazine titles across Australia.[2] According to the Finkelstein Review of Media and Media Regulation, in 2011 News Corp Australia (then News Limited) accounted for 23% of the newspaper titles in Australia.[3]

With interests in digital media, the company's sites include, Business Spectator and Eureka Report,, and It has 50% stakes in and, a share in REA Group that operates, as well as websites for most newspaper and magazine titles. The company's other Australian assets include all of Fox Sports Australia, 50% ownership of subscription television provider Foxtel and shares in the Brisbane Broncos NRL team.

Until the formation of News Corporation in 1979, News Limited was the principal holding company for the business interests of Rupert Murdoch and his family. Since then, News Limited had been wholly owned by News Corporation. In 2004, News Corporation announced its intention to reincorporate to the United States. On 3 November News Corp Limited ceased trading on the Australian Stock Exchange; and on 8 November, News Corporation began trading on the New York Stock Exchange.[4] On 28 June 2013, News Corporation was split into two separate companies. Murdoch's newspaper interests became News Corp, which was the new parent company of News Limited.[5] News Limited was renamed News Corp Australia following the listing of the new News Corp on 1 July 2013.[6]


News Limited was established in 1923 by James Edward Davidson, when he purchased the Broken Hill Barrier Miner and the Port Pirie Recorder.[7] He went on to purchase Adelaide's weekly Mail[8] and to found The News, a daily newspaper in Adelaide, South Australia. Sir Keith Murdoch acquired a minority interest in the company in 1949.[9] Following the death of his father, Sir Keith, in 1952, Rupert Murdoch inherited The News, which has been described by Bruce Page[10] as the "foundation stone" of News Limited (and News Corporation).

Over the next few years, Murdoch gradually established himself as one of the most dynamic media proprietors in Australia, quickly expanding his holdings by acquiring a string of daily and suburban newspapers in most capital cities, including the Sydney afternoon paper, The Daily Mirror, as well as a small Sydney-based recording company, Festival Records. His acquisition of the Mirror proved crucial to his success, allowing him to challenge the dominance of his two main rivals in the Sydney market, the Fairfax Newspapers group, which published the hugely profitable The Sydney Morning Herald, and the Consolidated Press group, owned by Sir Frank Packer, which published the city's leading tabloid paper, The Daily Telegraph.

In 1964, News Limited made its next important advance when it established The Australian, Australia's first national daily newspaper, based initially in Canberra and later in Sydney. The Australian, a broadsheet, gave News Limited a new respectability as a quality newspaper publisher, and also greater political influence since The Australian has always had an elite readership, if not always a large circulation.

Also in 1964, News Limited made Rupert Murdoch's first overseas newspaper investment – a 29.57 percent stake in the Wellington Publishing Company, subsequently part of Independent Newspapers Limited, INL, New Zealand's largest publishing group. The News Limited holding in INL fluctuated over the years and was just over 49 percent in 1997. The INL business was bought by News Limited's main rival in 2003 – Fairfax Media.

In 1972, News Limited acquired The Daily Telegraph from Sir Frank Packer, making Murdoch one of the "big three" newspaper proprietors in Australia, along with Fairfax Media in Sydney and his father's old Herald and Weekly Times Ltd in Melbourne. In the 1972 elections, Murdoch swung his newspapers' support behind Gough Whitlam and the left wing Australian Labor Party, but by 1975 he had turned against Labor, and since then has almost always supported the rightist Liberal Party.

Over the next ten years, as his press empire grew, Murdoch established a hugely lucrative financial base, and these profits were routinely used to subsidise further acquisitions. In his early years of newspaper ownership Murdoch was an aggressive, micromanaging entrepreneur. His standard tactic was to buy loss-making Australian newspapers and turn them around by introducing radical management and editorial changes and fighting no-holds-barred circulation wars with his competitors. By the 1970s, this power base was so strong that Murdoch was able to acquire leading newspapers and magazines in both London and New York, as well as many other media holdings.

To gain subscriptions for its new pay television business, News Ltd recruited rugby league football administrators, clubs and players to form a new competition, sparking the mid-1990s Super League war.

On 12 July 2006, News Limited announced the creation of a new division, News Digital Media to manage the operations of the news site; the online marketplace sites,, and as well as the partly owned, and related activities involving Foxtel and the company's newspapers and the Australian versions of Fox Interactive Media sites Myspace and IGN. Chairman and chief executive of News Limited, John Hartigan, announced the appointment of Richard Freudenstein as chief executive of the division.[11]

Editorial conduct issues

In the wake of the News International phone hacking scandal in the United Kingdom, in July 2011 News Limited announced a review of all payments in the previous three years.[12] On 22 July it was reported that two retired Victorian Supreme Court judges, Frank Vincent AO QC and Bernard Teague AO, were appointed to act as independent assessors of the conduct of the review and also assess the outcome.[13] The editorial and financial review concluded in early November and found no evidence of phone hacking or payments to public officials,[14][15] with Vincent and Teague declaring that the review process did not bring " light any systemic issues with respect to the making of payments to third parties and any substantial amounts paid to individuals in respect of illegitimate activities."[16]

Despite this the Australian division of News Corp has not entirely escaped scandal with allegations in 2012 that News Corp subsidiary, News Datacom Systems (NDS) had used hackers to undermine pay TV rivals around the world, including Australia. Some of the victims of the alleged hacking, such as Austar were later taken over by News Corp and others such as Ondigital later went bust. NDS had originally been set up to provide security to News Corp's pay TV interests but emails obtained by Fairfax Media revealed they had also pursued a wider agenda by distributing the keys to rival set top box operators and seeking to obtain phone records of suspected rivals.[17] The emails were from the hard drive of NDS European chief, Ray Adams. It was also revealed that Australian Federal police were working with UK police to investigate hacking by News Corp.[18]

Corporate changes

On 28 June 2013, News Corporation split into two publicly traded companies focused on publishing, and broadcasting/media respectively. At this time News Limited was renamed News Corp Australia and became part of the publishing company, News Corp, with Wall Street Journal editor Robert Thomson replacing Rupert Murdoch as CEO. Murdoch remains a chairman and shareholder for both companies.[19]

On 9 August 2013 it was announced that Julian Clarke would replace Kim Williams as the CEO of News Corp Australia. Williams had replaced John Hartigan, who served as CEO between 2000 and 2011, who had in turn succeeded Lachlan Murdoch.[20]

On 9 June 2015, it was announced that Peter Tonagh would replace Julian Clarke as the CEO of News Corp Australia with Michael Millar to be appointed to the role of Executive Chairman.[21] Peter Tonagh and Michael Millar's first day in their new roles was 16 November 2015 [22]

Influence in Australia

Murdoch's desire for dominant cross-media ownership manifested in early 1961 when he bought an ailing Australian record label, Festival Records, and within a few years it had become the leading local recording company. He also bought a television station in Wollongong, New South Wales, hoping to use it to break into the Sydney television market, but found himself frustrated by Australia's cross-media ownership laws, which prevented him from owning both a major newspaper and television station in the same city. Since then he has consistently lobbied, both personally and through his papers, to have these laws changed in his favour. This occurred in 2006 when the Liberal-National Coalition Government, having gained control of both houses of the Australian Parliament, introduced reforms to cross-media ownership and foreign media ownership laws. The laws came into effect in early 2007.

News Corp Australia has nearly three-quarters of daily metropolitan newspaper circulation and so maintains great influence in Australia. Internal News Corp Australia documents reveal a brazen offer during the 2001 Federal election campaign to promote the policies of a major party in its best-selling newspapers nationwide for almost A$500,000.[23] Other documents include a marginal seats guide written by a senior business manager for internal use. It evidences a corporate strategy to target marginal seats at the 2004 election.[24] Some of the documents appeared on Media Watch.[25]

Murdoch wanted a way to influence politics in his native land. He saw a way to do that through the News Limited publication the Australian.[26] The national daily was used to support Murdoch's political interests over time such as John McEwen with the National Party of Australia and Gough Whitlam with the Australian Labor Party.[27]



Murdoch moved to Britain and rapidly became a major force there after his acquisitions of the News of the World, and The Sun in 1969 and The Times and The Sunday Times in 1981, which he bought from the Thomson family. Both takeovers further reinforced his growing reputation as a ruthless and cunning business operator. His takeover of The Times aroused great hostility among traditionalists, who feared he would take it "downmarket." This led directly to the founding of The Independent in 1986 as an alternative quality daily.

United States

Murdoch made his first acquisition in the United States in 1973, when he purchased the San Antonio News. Soon afterwards he founded the National Star, a supermarket tabloid, and in 1976 he purchased the New York Post. Subsequent acquisitions were undertaken through News Corporation.


News Limited expanded its newspaper holdings in 1987 when it acquired The Herald and Weekly Times, which published two newspapers in Melbourne (in 1990 these papers would be combined to form the Herald Sun) as well as large stakes in several other newspaper publishers. News Limited went on to acquire the remaining shares of Brisbane's Queensland Newspapers (owner of The Courier-Mail), Adelaide's Advertiser Newspapers (owner of The Advertiser) and Hobart's Davies Brothers (owner of The Mercury).

In 1991, News Limited spun off its longtime magazine house, Southdown Press, as Pacific Magazines and Printing, and sold the former Advertiser magazines, renamed Murdoch Magazines, to Matt Handbury. News Limited reentered the magazine market in 2000 with the start of News Magazines. In 2006, News Limited returned to being a major player in the Australian magazine business with the purchase of Independent Print Media Group's FPC Magazines (Delicious, Super Food Ideas, Vogue Australia).[28]


News Corp Australia operates 170 newspaper and magazine titles in Australia, including the following:



New South Wales
South Australia
Western Australia

Northern Territory



West Australian Newspapers[29]





NRL properties


See also


  1. News Corporation (NWS) at Australian Securities Exchange
  2. "News Corp". Full description. Reuters. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
  3. "FactCheck: does Murdoch own 70% of newspapers in Australia?". The Conversation. 7 August 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  4. "News Corp Limited reincorporation proposal – action in respect of News Corp Limited individual share futures contracts" (PDF). SFE Bulletin. SFE Corporation Limited. 25 October 2004. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  5. "New News Corp starts trading at $15 per share". The Australian. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  6. Bridie Jabour (26 June 2013). "News Limited to rebrand local operation as News Corp Australia". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  7. "Prominent Journalist". The Chronicle. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 5 June 1930. p. 18. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  8. "The Mail". The Mail. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 24 March 1923. p. 2. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  9. Gershon, Richard A. (1996). The Transnational Media Corporation: Global Messages and Free Market Competition (paperback). Routledge. p. 226. ISBN 0-8058-2425-1.
  10. Page, Bruce (2003). The Murdoch Archipelago (hardback). London: Simon & Schuster. p. 480. ISBN 0-7432-3936-9.
  12. "Phone hacking: Australian PM promises 'hard questions'". BBC News. 19 July 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  13. Canning, Simon (22 July 2011). "Judges to oversee local News review". The Australian. Retrieved 23 July 2011.
  14. "News Limited review finds no phone hacking". ABC News. Australia. AAP. 14 November 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  15. Dick, Tim (14 November 2011). "News Ltd not involved in phone hacking, report finds". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  16. "Report of the Independent Assessors upon an Internal Review conducted by News Limited into Third Party Payments" (PDF). The Australian Financial Review. 10 November 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  17. Chenoweth, Neil Pay TV Piracy Hits News, The Financial Review 28 March 2012, online Retrieved 4 May 2012
  18. Tingle, Laura & Daley, Gemma "Federal Police Join News Probe", The Financial Review 28 March 2012, online Retrieved 4 May 2012
  19. "New News is good news, says mogul". Business Day. Archived from the original on 30 June 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  20. Guthrie, Bruce (10 November 2011). "Opinion: Change of tack: man overboard". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  21. "Peter Tonagh and Michael Miller to lead News Corp as Ciaran Davis steps up at APN". mUmBRELLA. 9 June 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  22. "One voice, two social media strategies". mUmBRELLA. 16 November 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  23. "Cash for Comment at half a million dollars". Limited Newss. 22 October 2001. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  24. "News Limited 2004 Federal Election Marginal Seats Guide". Limited Newss. 2004. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  25. "Media Watch | News Ltd unlimited cheek". Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  26. Shawcross, David (1997). Murdoch: The Making of a Media Empire. Touchstone. pp. 58–63.
  27. Tuccille, Jerome (1989). Rupert Murdoch. Donald I. Fine Inc. pp. 69–74.
  28. FPC clan puts synergies before sentiment
  29. 1 2 "SWM finalises purchase of The Sunday Times". The West Australian, 8 November 2016, page 3
  31. News Limited to close The Punch
  32. "CarsGuide".
  33. "News Corp Australia To Purchase Racing Industry Publisher". B&T Magazine. 5 October 2016. Retrieved 5 October 2016.

External links

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