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Rupert Murdoch did a small press tour Thursday after News Corp. announced it would split into two companies. He appeared on Fox Business Channel and Bloomberg TV. He made news on CNBC, when he mentioned News Corp. might rebrand The Wall Street Journal as “WSJ.” He also gave interviews to The Journal and The New York Times. Highlights:
• Murdoch told Bloomberg’s Betty Liu: “I shouldn’t say this, but I don’t really, I respect the analysts, but you know they dumped on me when I started Fox News, they dumped on me when I bought The Sun in London, and I could go on. Some of my greatest assets the analysts took our share prices down. So I’m not too carried away by what they say.”
• He told Liu “unless there’s something very extraordinary,” the new head of News Corp.’s publishing company would be an internal candidate.
• Also, to Liu: Confirmed cuts are coming to the company’s Australian papers. In newspapers, he told her, “Net net around the world we’ll be increasing our numbers and increasing our costs.”
• He told The Journal’s Merissa Marr and Christopher S. Stewart. “I don’t give a - - - - about” (no first letter to give us a clue?) the so-called “Murdoch discount,” the hit News Corp.’s stock supposedly takes because its newspapers drag down its more profitable assets.
• He said the newspaper division would start life debt-free, perhaps even acquire some assets. Marr and Stewart:
People familiar with the situation say Mr. Murdoch has long eyed titles such as the Los Angeles Times, whose parent company, Tribune Co., is due to emerge from bankruptcy in coming months. In the interview, Mr. Murdoch played down his interest in the paper, saying it would have to be looked at “closely,” citing regulatory restrictions, among other things.
• He threw cold water on the suggestion tat his son Lachlan would run the publishing division: ” ‘That specific role is not on the agenda but I certainly hope that Lachlan will return to the company,’ he told Marr and Stewart.
• Murdoch told The New York Times’ Amy Chozick that newspaper employees “shouldn’t feel like they’ve got a crutch.”
The Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone dug into that last point: In the past, employees of Murdoch’s newspapers benefited from being part of a company with far more valuable assets. Now, as one Journal staffer told him, “Instead of being part of this big diverse, cash-rich aircraft carrier of a company, we’re going to be part of a car ferry.”
Enjoy a little Rupert TV:
Also don’t miss Anthony De Rosa’s collection of Murdoch’s best tweets.