Murdoch: Rebound in ’10


News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said he doesn’t expect the markets to return to pre-recession levels anytime soon.

At a general session panel at last week’s The Cable Show hosted by Fox News Channel anchor Neil Cavuto, Murdoch fielded questions about the global economy, social mores in the wake of the economic crisis, and how much he’s paying in taxes on his summer home in the Hamptons.

Despite the recent rally in the stock market — the Dow Jones industrial average rose 200 points last Thursday — Murdoch, who has watched News Corp. stock decline by 55% in 2008, wasn’t exactly optimistic about Wall Street.

“I’m not a market expert, Murdoch said, “but we’re not going back to the old levels in any hurry at all.” Asked how long the market malaise could last, Murdoch said he believes it could last two or three years. The economy, he added, could recover by the end of next year.

While media companies, especially broadcasters, have struggled with declining advertising sales, Murdoch said cable has thrived. But he said it has been at the expense of broadcasters. (News Corp. owns the Fox broadcast network as well as several cable programmers, including Fox News Channel and FX.)

“Our cable channels did very well; advertising is up,” said Murdoch. “But that advertising is flowing out of the big free-to-air networks, because they are not able to deliver the eyeballs they once did. Cable networks — they are in good shape and we are proud to own many of them.”

While some CEOs have been vilified because of the global recession, Murdoch, who has endured his share of protesters over the years, said that for the most part such backlash was overblown.

Asked if he believed the backlash over executives who reaped huge personal financial gains as their companies crumbled would lead to a global class war, Murdoch didn’t think so.

“In the last two or three years, there have been some notable, headline-grabbing excesses, and we’re paying for that,” Murdoch said.

Cavuto also railed about U.S. economic policies that could lead to heavy taxation of the wealthy. Murdoch said that he has seen taxes and fees rising exponentially already — he mentioned local fees for his “modest” summer home in the Hamptons have risen from $2,000 to $3,000 to $7,000 to $8,000.

Asked what he would do in response, Murdoch had a simple answer.

“I’m going to sell my house,” he said.