Can we stop firing people for making a joke? Rupert Murdoch to son James on Andy Gray firing

This is what Rupert Murdoch said to son James, CEO of News Corporation in the UK and Asia at a dinner with Sun executives in London in January according to Tim Arango in an exhaustive analysis for the New York Times of the relationship between father and son and the likely impact if James ultimately takes over from his dad as head man.

Everybody seems to have rather forgotten the firing of soccer pundits Andy Gray and Richard Keys from Sky Sports for some rather mild locker room banter about a female soccer linesman (linesperson? lineswoman?). The two subsequently ended up at the downmarket sports radio station TalkSport with modest settlements from Sky.

And Arango’s account of Murdoch senior’s views on the affair differs rather markedly from those he is widely reported by others to have offered in a Times editorial conference at the time.

Oh well, you win a few and lose a few (in the case of Gray and Keys they lost).

Arango’s article (see the link in paragraph one) is a fascinating look at heir apparent James, detailing his triumphs in pay-TV at, first, Star in Asia and then BSkyB in the UK.

It also makes the point that the key attraction for the Murdochs in buying the 61 per cent of BSkyB they don’t already own is the consolidation of the pay-TV company’s vast profits (set to hit £2bn sometime soon) on News Corporation’s balance sheet rather than the tidal wave of dividends it could extract from the business.

News with all of Sky would be a conventional media company capable of challenging the likes of Apple and Google.

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