RUPERT Murdoch underplayed a key move of his own in his announcement that John Hartigan would step down as chairman and chief executive of News Ltd, News Corp’s Australian arm, to be replaced by Foxtel’s boss, Kim Williams. It is that he will become chairman of News Ltd.
Hartigan’s departure and Williams’s appointment are fascinating, coming as they do as an inquiry into Australian media kicks off amid rancour between News, the Gillard government and the Greens, as News Corp grapples with the fallout from the telephone hacking scandal in Britain, and as it erects a pay wall around its Australian flagship, The Australian.
Hartigan moved carefully on the pay wall. People close to him say he thought Australia had a more developed display advertisement revenue stream than News did overseas, and was keen to protect it.