News Corp. not big enough?

James Murdoch worried over Google, Apple

James Murdoch told an international media confab that News Corp. is “not big enough” to compete with “much, much bigger beasts” such as Google and Apple.

Murdoch’s comments came at the Cannes Festival of Creativity Debate on Friday. Replying to a question from moderator Martin Sorrell, CEO of ad group WPP, about the creativity of big business, Murdoch said, “The real issue becomes that as the competitive set shifts, we’re not big enough.”

News Corp., of course, owns or controls 20th Century Fox studios and Fox TV networks; European pay TV platforms BSkyB, Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland; TV businesses in Australia, New Zealand and India; publisher HarperCollins; and a wide range of newspaper assets in the U.S., U.K. and Australia, including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.

Murdoch, News Corp.’s deputy chief operating officer, said, “When you look at the competitive set in an all-media marketplace, when you have monolithic brands, from Google and Apple etc., to big former PTTs (publicly owned telephone companies) Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom to Verizon, to all the characters on a playing field on a terrain that has essentially collapsed, there are much, much bigger beasts than a News Corp. or Time Warner, or whatever it is.

“And that is a real challenge for us going forward: How do we make sure that we can compete at scale globally, as these new players do, and still be quick and creative and risk-taking? I think it’s something that’s unresolved.”

Murdoch suggested that in today’s all-media landscape, it is no longer as straightforward as having rival companies competing against each other.

“This is a complex business environment,” he said. “You have to be mature enough to say you’re going to have deep partnerships with companies that you’re going to be trying to absolutely throttle (in another sector) over here.”

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