DirecTV: Senator Likens Murdoch to William Randolph Hearst

10 May 2001

Republican oracle Senator John McCain is somewhat less than euphoric over Rupert Murdoch’s current ambitions, declaring in an interview that his machinations to acquire DirecTV [WAMN: 02-May-01] could lead to “a consolidation of power the likes of which this country has not seen since William Randolph Hearst [the legendarily ruthless media tycoon, whose rise and rise was portrayed by Orson Welles in Citizen Kane].

Media observers regard the senator’s remarks as a warning salvo across Murdoch’s bows. Chairman of the Senate Committee for communications issues and consumer protection, McCain would be a formidable opponent. Although he does not have the personal power to approve or disapprove media mergers, his is an authoratitive voice to which many in government - and especially the Federal Communications Commission - listen with respect.

But the senator also knows when to don the velvet glove: “Mr Murdoch is a man I admire greatly - but look at what he's about to do," he said. "I have the greatest respect for him - don't get me wrong, I'm not judging his character. I'm just saying that we should look at this very carefully."

McCain implied that he would convene a Senate competition hearing if the DirecTV deal goes ahead and that Murdoch would be invited to testify personally. “If it's right, it may be right; if it's wrong, it may be wrong. But we've got to understand the implications of it.”

A successful deal, if it clears the competition hurdle, would add DirecTV, which has nearly 10m US subscribers, to Murdoch’s stable which also embraces the Fox television network, the New York Post and Twentieth Century Fox movie studios.

News source: Financial Times