It’s not often you read such a stark admission in a News Corp newspaper (or on Sky News) about one of the Murdoch clan’s biggest assets. This time, it’s the half-owned pay-TV giant Foxtel. It’s the most profitable of News Corp’s Australian media interests, with revenue of more than US$2.4 billion and earnings of US$604 million on an earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation basis (the usual measure of media profitability) in the year to June. That was down from US$2.6 billion and US$760 million in the 2015 financial year. The 2016 figure was almost as much as News Corp made from all its businesses (US$685 million, down from US$945 million)

So it’s not struggling financially like News Corp’s Australian newspapers are, but it is under pressure from the rise of streaming video (Stan, Netflix, etc) and more competition. So it was odd to see in something very different in feature in The Weekend Australian on Foxtel’s CEO Peter Tonagh’s plans for the pay-TV operator. In the feature, senior writer Damon Kitney, left us with the strong impression that Foxtel is struggling. Without names being named in the story, fingers were pointed at previous managers/managements for Foxtel’s problems. But there was also what seems to outsiders to be an astoundingly improbable admission in the feature. In pointing out that Tonagh was recruited to Foxtel by then-CEO Kim Williams back in 2004 to be the chief operating officer, Kitney wrote:

“A decade later, he is still there, and has now been tasked with saving one of its most profitable but arguably most challenged businesses.”

Whoa, hold up right there — “saving” Foxtel? That is a pretty big admission, seeing no one knew it was in such trouble that it needed “saving”. But if that’s the case and Foxtel is in need of saving, the question has to be raised, why? — Glenn Dyer