The Financial Times reports that News Corporation faces a potential “deadlock” once Rupert Murdoch’s heirs take over, according to a biography of the 77-year-old media owner whose empire stretches from the Sun newspaper in London to Star TV in Asia. An agreement giving equal economic rights in the Murdoch family’s stake in the company to all six of its chairman’s children — but voting control to the eldest four only — contains no provision for breaking tied votes, the book reports.

“A two-to-two vote means absolute deadlock in the affairs of one of the world’s largest companies,” writes Michael Wolff, author of The Man Who Owns the News, which will be published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House, on December 2. (The Man Who Owns the News is alo available as part of the Crikey Christmas subscriber offer.)

He quotes Mr Murdoch saying that the arrangement could yet change, giving votes to Grace and Chloe, his young children by Wendi, his third wife, “when they are 25 or 30 or something”.

However, his older children and the family’s lawyer told Mr Wolff there was no such plan to renegotiate the trust that manages the 38% stake.

A person close to the family told the Financial Times: “This is not a family that believes it needs legal deadlock provisions. They have always been very happy to rely on old-fashioned talking, arguing, shouting, threatening and ultimately compromise to reach consensus.” The book stirs speculation about Mr Murdoch’s likely successor following the 2005 decision by Lachlan, his eldest son, to step down from executive duties. — Glenn Dyer

More job losses in London-based media. The Telegraph is looking to sack 10% of its news gathering workforce and commercial TV group, ITV, is backing up for another round of cuts, the second in six months. The Financial Times reported that ITV had again employed the Boston Consulting group to cut costs.

This time its looking for cuts of 25 million pounds a year, or around $A60 million. This is on top of the 35 million pounds (around $A83 million) that the group took out earlier this year that resulted in 1,000 jobs being lost, including reporters, producers and camera people and other production employees. The losses this time look like being in the hundreds.

ITV has already warned that TV ad revenues in the usually lucrative Christmas quarter could be down 7% or more; 9% for the second half of this year as a whole. That’s a drop estimated by London analysts of 75 million pounds (more than $A180 million) and 100 million pounds next year (around $A235 million). Forecasts in London say the UK TV ad market will be down 5% this year and more, perhaps up to 7% in 2009.

Car companies, banks, property groups and retailers have cut their advertising levels. And the The Telegraph Media Group, publisher of the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs, is cutting 10% of their number, according to a memo sent round both papers and reported in London. In an email, Richard Ellis, managing editor, blamed falling advertising revenues for the cuts. Around 50 jobs will go. 500 will remain after the slash.

The Telegraph is the latest UK newspaper group to cut its workforce. Last week, Independent news & Media revealed 25% (90) of its journalists on the Independent and the Sunday paper would lose their jobs and Daily Mail & General Trust said it had dropped 400 jobs in recent months, with the strong possibility of more to come. — Glenn Dyer

Nice ad placement SMH! A scary article about an Air NZ airbus nose diving into the mediterranean right along side an advert for a “Kiwi Holiday”. I think many would think twice about it!

Crikey reader Antony Makin

Marketing 50. Advertising Age honours the top brands of the year — and the brains behind them. Includes products such as macaroni cheese, iPhones, shampoo, whiskey and umbrellas, amongst others. — Advertising Age

Two arrests after western journalists kidnapped in Somalia. Two men have been arrested today in connection with the kidnapping of two western journalists on Somalia’s northern coast. A Somali police spokesman confirmed the arrests and said the two journalists, understood to be a British reporter and a Spanish photographer, had been abducted by their translators. According to an Associated Press report, the police spokesman, Abshir Abdi Jama, said six other suspects were on the run. The reporters were snatched yesterday en route to the airport in the port city of Bosasso, in the semi-autonomous Puntland region of northern Somalia, where it is believed they were working on a story about the region’s rampant piracy. — The Guardian

Foreign press issues plea to reopen Gaza crossing. The Israeli government has offered no plausible explanation for its unprecedented ban on international journalists entering the Gaza Strip, representatives of the foreign media said at a news conference Thursday. With the ban entering its fourth week, appeals to the Israeli government from foreign governments, the United Nations and the leaders of major news organizations have gone unanswered, the journalists said.– International Herald Tribune

Walkley Awards: booze, bo-bs and Anton Enus. The Crikey team went to the Walkleys thursday night and we brought our toilet roll mascot with us, dressed for the occasion. We had fun, Jonathan is ashamed of us and First Dog is making a movie. 

Of course some journalists also won awards. Here is a compilation of their gloating:

Dateline VJ wins third Walkley Award. SBS Dateline Video Journalist Ginny Stein has won her third Walkley Award for a body of work about Zimbabwe under the Mugabe regime. Ginny Stein said she was honoured to receive the award but saddened that her colleague ‘D’, a Zimbabwean who risked his life obtaining undercover footage and interviews for the story “Mugabe’s Calling Card”, was unable to be present at the awards. — SBS

The Australian scoops three Walkley Awards. The Australian newspaper last night claimed three prestigious Walkley Awards for excellence in journalism. Tony Koch, The Australian‘s chief reporter in Queensland, and Padraic Murphy, North Queensland correspondent, took out the award for print news reporting for their story “No Jail For Rape of Girl, 10” published in December last year. The article revealed that a number of men and youths, some from influential families in the Aurukun community on Cape York, were not jailed for the rape of the girl despite pleading guilty. The story attracted worldwide attention and prompted an investigation resulting in five prison sentences. — The Australian

Age journalists honoured for thoughtful, provocative work. Past and present journalists of The Age were last night honoured at the annual Walkley Awards. Senior sports journalist Greg Baum won the commentary, analysis, opinion and critique award for three passionate columns that the judges said ridiculed “the insidious rise of spin in Australia’s professional sport” in motor racing, the AFL and soccer. The award is normally won by political or business commentators. — The Age

Super 12: Fairfax journos shine. The Sydney Morning Herald won six Walkley awards at a ceremony to celebrate the best of Australian journalism at the Crown Hotel in Melbourne last night. — SMH

ABC takes nine Walkleys. The ABC picked up nine Walkley Awards for journalism at a ceremony in Melbourne last night. The broadcaster made it a clean sweep in the radio category, with awards for news, current affairs and feature reports. — ABC

Who watched? Not many. 44,000 people all up watched journalism’s night of nights. 12,000 in Sydney, 10,000 in Melbourne.

If you want to see who won everything SBS have a list here.

Peter Fray

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