Murdochs are on the couch says Vanity Fair as family squabbles over succession following phone hacking scandal

Rupert Murdoch’s children have been consulting a pyschologist to try to sort out the family succession to dad Rupert, founder, chairman and CEO of $44bn News Corporation, according to a report by Sarah Ellison in Vanity Fair.

These family confabs have also included Murdoch’s eldest daughter Prudence from his first marriage (who has had no official connection with the Murdoch businesses for years) and daughter Elizabeth who recently sold her TV production business to News Corp for about £400m.

As always in these families, it’s the boys who are causing the problem, in this case chiefly youngest sibling James (pictured) who is heavily embroiled in the phone hacking at the News Corp-owned News of the Word in the UK (recently closed). But elder brother Lachlan, also a News Corp director, is also involved because he was undermined by father Rupert (according to Ms Ellison) when he was the heir apparent at the company before James and the family, or the girls, don’t want a repeat performance.

Reading between the lines (well, actually it’s glaringly obvious) the younger Murdoch are really wondering what to do about Dad. Ideally, you suspect, they’d have him carted off to the old tycoons home.

Vanity Fair’s Ellison may or may not be correct about these family upheavals. But it’s clear that succession is a big problem for the Murdoch clan (who control 38 per cent of the votes in News Corp even though they ‘only’ own 12 per cent of the shares).

James’s chances of taking over as CEO, psychologist or no psychologist, are receding by the day although he may yet rescue things with a confident return appearance before the UK Parliamentary culture, media and sport committee later this month when he is to be quizzed about apparent discrepancies between his evidence in an earlier appearance before the committee and that of former Mews of the World editor Colin Myler and former legal manager Tom Krone.

In the meantime News Corp has revealed that the closure of the big-selling News of the World has cost it $91m in restructuring charges (redundancies) and $68m in lost profits. It’s actually a lot more than that.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.