Murdoch Grasps the Net Nettle

19 July 2005

Rupert Murdoch indulging in a rare bout of public breast-beating: April 2005 ...

"I didn't do as much as I should have after all the excitement of the late 1990s ... quietly hoping that this thing called the digital revolution would just limp away. Well it hasn't. It won't. And it's a fast-developing reality we should grasp."

Fast forward to July 2005 and Rupert Murdoch indulging in a common bout of self-congratulatory hype ...

"We believe the time is right for the launch of Fox Interactive Media and we're committed to devoting the resources to make it one of the premier companies on the web.

After years of atypical dithering, the media mogul finally moved - and fast. On Friday, News Corporation announced the creation of an internet division to speed the transformation of its Fox programming to the digital era.

The new Fox division is led by Ross Levinsohn, an alumni of Fox Sports Interactive Media. Says he: "We have all the building blocks for success and we're convinced that by combining our internet assets under one banner and making a few shrewd investments, we can quickly become one of the most exciting and innovative destinations on the web.

The first of the "few shrewd investments" came hard on the heels of the initial announcement. Within hours NewsCorp let it be known it had agreed to buy controversial internet company Intermix Media for about $580 million (€480m; £331m) in cash.

Intermix achieved notoriety earlier this year when New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer accused it of illegally dumping 'spyware' and 'adware' on millions of personal computers without proper consent. In June Intermix settled Spitzer's suit, without admitting wrongdoing, by paying a $7.5m fine and agreeing to cease its disputed activities.

"Intermix's brands, such as, are some of the Web's hottest properties and resonate with the same audiences that are most attracted to Fox's news, sports and entertainment offerings," cooed cyber-Murdoch.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online and Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff