If Rupert Murdoch’s new Fox business channel
requires topless reporters to be successful, that’s what Rupert will do,
according to his fellow News Corp shareholder, John Malone – and that has his
full approval.

In an interview with Fortune,
Malone claims his 18% News Corp stake isn’t really up for sale at this
point – whatever “really” and “at this point” might mean:

Q: What about the idea that you’re just going to
sell the rest of your assets to Rupert Murdoch so he gets the 18 percent of
NewsCorp that you own?

We are not engineering it today in that direction. We think the NewsCorp asset
is undervalued because it has the best position of any of the vertically
integrated media companies: it is both global and controls its satellite
distribution. That said, we would love to see Rupert be a little more
aggressive on leverage and shrinking his equity (by buying back stock). Not
necessarily ours. We are not really up for sale at this point.

Q: You’ve said you think NewsCorp will be
successful where some of the other old media companies haven’t been, like with
its new Fox business channel. CNN had to shut down its CNNfn business channel.
Why will Fox do better than CNN?

Because Rupert’s got the creativity and the drive. He’s got the guts to drive
it. It will be more sensational, it will have topless news reporters if it has
to. It doesn’t really matter. Rupert is just more aggressive than other people.
He’s smart and he puts the pieces together. The bottom line is it’s more
important to him than to other people.

Fortune story makes the point that Malone’s Liberty Media has problems of its
own. The company has net assets of US$37 billion but the stock market only
prices it at US$22 billion – a discount that reeks of a credibility problem.

in passing Malone’s new co-CEO, Greg Maffei, makes an ominous observation about
old media. “The
easy idea that all content is going to increase in value is not true, because a
lot of content is getting devalued. What is the value of the New York Times editorial if you can
get Drudge’s opinion and 17 blogs for free?”

sort of thinking at the top of a company that could yet call some of the shots
at News Corporation won’t help the falling confidence in the future of
newspapers. Time to start work on those pecs, fellas, and how’s the all-over
tan, girls?