Elisabeth Murdoch Calls on Media Industry to Embrace Morality, Reject Pursuit of Profit


EDINBURGH: In her speech at the Edinburgh International Television Festival yesterday, Elisabeth Murdoch, the chairman and CEO of Shine, warned that “profit without purpose is a recipe for disaster,” negating what her brother James Murdoch had declared in his MacTaggart Lecture three years ago.

James Murdoch has ended his 2009 lecture with a line in which he claimed that the only reliable and perpetual guarantor of independence is profit. “He clearly intended the statement to be provocative, and it is, but I also think that it deserves further analysis,” Elisabeth told the crowd yesterday. “James was right that if you remove profit, then independence is massively challenged but I think that he left something out: the reason his statement sat so uncomfortably is that profit without purpose is a recipe for disaster.

“As an industry—and indeed I would say as a global society—we have become trapped in our own rhetoric,” she continued. “We need to learn how to be comfortable with articulating purpose and reject the idea that money is the only effective measure of all things or that the free market is the only sorting mechanism.”

She also addressed the phone-hacking scandal that plagued her father’s company. “News [Corp.] is a company that is currently asking itself some very significant and difficult questions about how some behaviours fell so far short of its values.” Murdoch added: “Personally, I believe one of the biggest lessons of the past year has been the need for any organization to discuss, affirm and institutionalise a rigorous set of values based on an explicit statement of purpose.”