Fairfax media is reporting that Australia’s richest person Gina Rinehart is behind a multi-million dollar share raid on the media company.

Ms Rinehart reportedly increased her stake in the media business by 5 per cent overnight, taking her total stake in the company to about 9 per cent.

It has been reported that brokers acting on Ms Rinehart’s behalf offered to purchase a 9.9 per cent stake in Fairfax for $192 million.

It is believed the iron ore magnate offered to pay more than 10 per cent above the closing share price of 74 cents.

The offer was made after the close of the Australian Stock Exchange last night, and left fund managers with less than three hours to decide on the deal.

Fairfax’s publications include The Melbourne Age, Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review.

Greens communications spokesman Scott Ludlam says it is not healthy for people with major interests in Australia’s mining sector to also hold a large stake in the nation’s media.

“It becomes, I think, incredibly dangerous,” he said.

“You get very narrow sectoral viewpoints over-represented in issues of enormous public interest like the climate change debate and whether we get a fair return on our resources.”



• How an unpretentious charmer became fixated on a conspiracy of liberals

FOR someone who has a genuine love of newspapers and a deep interest in television, Rupert Murdoch has very odd views on journalism and the media. He is contemptuous of most journalistic ideals, reserving special disdain for what he calls the ‘‘liberal media’‘. While the rest of the world hailed the investigative journalism of the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, Murdoch scorned it as ‘‘the new cult of adversarial journalism’‘.

In 1984, he complained about the critical media coverage of Ronald Reagan’s policies. The press was trying to change the country’s political agenda and its traditional values, he claimed. In the years since, Murdoch’s attacks on the mainstream media have been regular.

Yet Rupert Murdoch is at least as devoted to propagating his own ideas and political beliefs as he is to making money. Murdoch has a particular conservative world view that has evolved over the years and on whose evangelisation he spends many millions annually, through both corporate spending and personal (often secret) donations. Key parts of his empire are deeply enmeshed in their nation’s politics and operate as megaphones for Murdoch’s values and leverage.

More than any other global corporate giant, Murdoch has supported and participated in conservative think tanks in the United States, Britain and Australia. In 1988-89 he took a seat on the board of the Hoover Institution, during the high tide of Reaganism, joining former Reagan official Jeane Kirkpatrick and former Defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld. At the same time, in Australia Murdoch joined the council of the Institute of Public Affairs and remained on it until 2000, regularly giving generous donations to the influential think tank (while his journalists continued to report regularly on the institute and its political campaigns).

In 1997, he joined the board of the Cato Institute, a Washington-based libertarian think tank set up by the owner of one of the largest private companies in the US oil industry. At that time, the institute was running an active campaign of climate change denial, as were oil companies such as ExxonMobil. In Britain, News Corporation was deeply involved in the country’s oldest free market think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs, which played a vital role in laying the intellectual foundations on which Thatcherism was built, especially its policies on free markets, deregulation and privatisation.

Murdoch’s The Australian newspaper regularly publishes articles and columns by writers drawn from the ranks of such conservative think tanks in Australia and overseas.

In fact, Murdoch has used his media assets countless times to advance his political beliefs and play favourites with governments and political parties. Both Fox News and the London Sun make vast amounts of money, and both operate as powerful political levers to support or oppose political parties and their leaders.

Murdoch’s Fox News is credited not only with influencing its loyal audience but with affecting the tone of all US television, an influence summed up by the term ‘‘the Fox News effect’‘. Its shouting heads broadcast a nightly mantra of fear-filled messages to their 3 million viewers. Its swirling graphics and dramatic music intensify its ‘‘Fox News Alerts’’ about the latest threat from terrorists, liberals, gays - and Democrats.

President Barack Obama has been a particular target ...

Read more:

This is an edited extract from David McKnight’s book Rupert Murdoch: An investigation of Political Power, published by Allen & Unwin and available next week.

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• Mercury: Mercury building for sale:

THE landmark headquarters of the Mercury goes on the market today ahead of the newspaper’s move to Salamanca Square later this year.

The Mercury has a 158-year link to Macquarie St, where founder John Davies established the business in 1854.


Davies Brothers Pty Ltd chief executive Rex Gardner, above (Pic: Mercury HERE) said yesterday the site was expected to attract local, interstate and international interest.

“We know who is already interested but we expect more interested parties to come forward,” he said.

Mr Gardner said the site would attract interest from developers keen to turn the building into residential, commercial or car parking space but the art deco facade would remain.

The Mercury is expected to move into its new headquarters, which overlooks the main entrance to Salamanca Square, in August.

Mr Gardner said the new site would offer the Mercury a great opportunity to be in the heart of one of Hobart’s liveliest precincts.

“One of our plans is to have a digital screen to create a focal point for the public.

It would help to create an atmosphere not unlike Melbourne’s Federation Square.