There’s something deliciously ironic about Rupert Murdoch launching a sharemarket raid on a company that the law will never allow him to control the day before he’s asking his own shareholders to extend his notorious poison pill for two years so that John Malone can’t do the same to him.

The Australian’s New York correspondent David Nasan was given the leak this morning suggesting the poison pill extension will be approved, but The Wall Street Journal’s opening paragraph last Saturday is more instructive:

News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch next week faces an unprecedented referendum on his leadership — and his family’s long-term control of the media conglomerate.

At the company’s annual meeting Friday in New York, shareholders will vote on whether News Corp should renew the “poison pill” takeover defence it adopted two years ago to ward off advances from media investor John Malone.

If the pill is overturned, Malone’s Liberty Media Corp potentially could threaten the Murdoch family’s control of News Corp, which it exercises through a roughly 30% voting stake. Liberty has 19%, and Malone has said he would buy more if he could.