Digital media list: Williams was powerful before the big promotion. Kim Williams has been so good at running Foxtel that Rupert Murdoch has given him the most powerful media job in the country, as CEO of News Ltd.
It’s a fair call. Murdoch is moving his Australian newspapers to a subscription model, having just erected a paywall. And Williams knows a thing or two about how to make it work, having pushed the take-up of subscription television since he started at Foxtel in 2001. He knows how to make people pay for what they previously got for free.
But it’s one thing to get users to pay for a broad variety of television programs that may be unavailable elsewhere. It’s another to make them cough up for mass-market media content. And while Murdoch’s Australian empire might still be making ok profits (our News Ltd source says it’s got another five to ten years, because the Telegraphs, Herald Sun and Queensland Newspapers are still making millions) it’s behind the paywall that leadership is needed to guarantee the media group’s long-term future.
Speaking to The Power Index on Tuesday, Williams offered no hints that with Rupert in town, he would be publicly anointed as John Hartigan’s replacement within 24 hours. Indeed Williams told us he loved Foxtel and loved his job. “It’s been, and continues to be a real pleasure,” he said, adding: “I have no tickets on myself.”
But when asked about his passion for television — he’s worked with the medium for the majority of his career and has been one of its most outspoken advocates — Williams was quick to correct us that it’s a “passion for media” he has. Perhaps we should have caught on. Following the announcement at News Ltd yesterday, he told The Australian that he was offered the job last week. — Angela Priestley (read the full profile here)
Hartigan ‘tapped on the shoulder’. On Rupert Murdoch’s last visit to Australia in October 2010, John Hartigan told his 80-year old boss he would be happy to step aside in a year’s time. But when the moment finally arrived yesterday, Rupert had to tell the News Ltd CEO his time was up.
“Harto had to be tapped on the shoulder and told to go,” a well-placed insider at News told The Power Index today. “He told Rupert last year, but Rupert kept doing nothing about it, and then the News of the World scandal came along and Harto decided he wanted to stay on after all. So he’s disappointed, he’s definitely disappointed, but he’s not necking himself.” — Paul Barry (read the full story here)
News toasts Harto in boozy pub farewell. Drinkers toasted the tenure of outgoing News Limited CEO John Hartigan last night on the rooftop of Surry Hills watering hole the Aurora Hotel, as hard-bitten hacks prepare for the reign of incoming chief Kim Williams.
All were invited for a 6.30pm kick-off at the Aurora, with those paying their respects including Daily Telegraph editor Paul Whittaker, editor of The Australian Clive Mathieson. The incoming CEO was also there. — Tom Cowie (read the full story here)
Greiner to O’Farrell: sell off NSW power assets. Former Liberal NSW premier Nick Greiner has fired another salvo at current premier Barry O’Farrell in an attempt to get him to privatise the state’s electricity network.
There is “absolutely, totally, no alternative” to selling the entire system, lock, stock and barrel, if the state is to find enough money to build the infrastructure it needs, the chairman of Infrastucture NSW told the Australian British Chamber of Commerce yesterday. “At the moment the NSW balance sheet has no equity. Where else do you get $50 million from, I don’t know.” — Paul Barry (read the full story here)
2UE shock jock salaries leaked. The shock jocks at 2UE are struggling in the ratings, but they’re still taking home enviable salaries of $200,000-plus, according to a leaked document. — The Power Index (read the full story here)