Rupert Murdoch, whose planned $2 billion acquisition of Metromedia's television stations with oilman Marvin Davis would make him one of the nation's largest broadcasters, said he expects his News Corp. Ltd. to become a global force in television programming production and distribution.
With his ownership of the Ten television network in Australia, a European satellite cable television superstation called Sky Channel and a 50 percent share of the Twentieth Century-Fox movie company, Murdoch said that "there obviously is a fit between all these properties" and that he will "carefully watch relationships of the television stations in this country and their relationship to our other holdings worldwide" to see if there are global economies of scale.
In an interview, Murdoch said that he intends to use his worldwide television properties to help finance Fox television productions and, in the future, would explore selling global television advertising spots that could be aired on his American, Australian and European networks.
However, Murdoch expressed concern that he would be required to divest himself of his profitable Sydney and Melbourne television stations because he has chosen to give up his Australian citizenship for American citizenship. U.S. laws prohibit foreign citizens from owning more than a 25 percent stake in American broadcast companies.
"I love Australia," Murdoch said. "Unfortunately, Australia is one of the few countries in the world that doesn't offer dual citizenship."
But he said that "there is a lot of conjecture that we may be allowed to keep those stations" and that he may soon go to Australia to argue his case. Murdoch stressed, however, that he is "not going to seek a change in the law" that would enable him to retain ownership should Australian regulators force him to sell the stations. He also owns several newspapers there.
In this country, where federal regulations prohibit cross-ownership of major media in the same city, Murdoch said that "we haven't made up our minds" whether to sell the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper or the newly acquired Metromedia station there. He pointed out that the station has a UHF signal significantly less crisp than the city's VHF television stations, and is thus not as good a buy as the Metromedia stations in New York and Los Angeles.
On Thursday, Sun-Times publisher Robert Page posted a note in its newsroom saying that Murdoch had decided to sell the paper. Sources close to Murdoch said earlier that, to avoid a distress sale, he didn't want to commit himself on the matter.
Murdoch said that he expects the Federal Communications Commission to give him "two years" to dispose of the Sun-Times and the New York Post, the two newspapers that would conflict with the cross-ownership restriction.
Murdoch, who is an ardent marketer, said that during that time he may use the newspapers and the television stations to "promote each other" on the air and in print.