In the political homage stakes, Ming the Merciless comes a poor second to Rupert the Relentless - as the News Corporation chairman/ceo might be known in less respectful circles.

What other global media baron could command the presences of former and future US presidents Bill and Hillary Clinton, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Israeli vice-premier Shimon Peres and U2 frontman Bono to his court?

To say nothing of his most devoted acolyte, UK prime minister Tony Blair whose election in 1997 and two subsequent re-elections owe much to the support of the Murdoch media stable, which commands over 35% of all British newspaper readership.

The prime minister, whose compliance with the will of his media liege rivals that of Robin with Batman, flew from London to San Francisco to deliver an address entitled Leadership in the Modern World to News Corporation's annual executive conference.

It emerged over the weekend that Blair, who is expected to step down from the UK premiership within the next few months, could be rewarded for his loyalty to the Murdoch family empire with a seat on the News Corporation board, according to London-based newspaper The Independent.

He might leap at such an offer, say "friends" who told The Independent that a "seat on the board of NewsCorp could tempt the outgoing prime minister as it would dovetail neatly with the lucrative United States lecture circuit".

He will not be the first [or last] political fixer to take a seat in the Murdoch boardroom - a sinecure not without its fiscal rewards. Former Spanish prime minister Jose Marie Aznar, another "war on terrorism" enthusiast, was recently appointed a NewsCorp director.

However, for those who read the runes of precedence, the order of speakers at the conference is not without significance. Murdoch made the keynote address, followed by California's muscle-bound governor and then the prime minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff