Murdoch didn’t build the world’s most powerful media empire without overcoming some major hurdles along the way. Calling time on the bid when he did stopped a parliamentary vote that would have rendered green-lighting any future approach politically untenable. Cameron has called on him to “clean his own house” before looking elsewhere. If Murdoch can stop the contagion now – and oust the most exposed members of his staff – he may be able to lie low while the worst of the crisis blows over. In a year’s time, he could return for round two – and who would bet against him?
heat rating: 1/10
FAILS “FIT AND PROPER” TEST IN UK
The Murdoch name has never been popular with the chattering classes, no matter how many newspapers he sells. But News Corp is now so damaged it may never fully regain the confidence of the establishment. Ofcom, headed by Ed Richards (pictured), must now decide if News Corp is a “fit and proper” owner of 39 per cent of BSkyB – let alone being allowed to bid for the rest.
heat rating: 5/10
MURDOCH FORCED OUT ALTOGETHER
This is the worst case scenario: News Corp shareholders spot weakness and the independent directors rebel against Murdoch. If political pressure in the US continues to rise and Murdoch is said to have breached the law, he could be victim of one of the biggest boardroom mutinies of all time. This, however, is unlikely. The Murdoch family has a 40 per cent share of the voting rights at News Corp – even though their holding is far lower – thanks to the structure of its shares. Rebels would require almost unanimous investor support and the company would suffer gravely in the process.
heat rating: 10/10
LEGAL SITUATION IN US HOTS UP
Murdoch’s business in the UK is on the ropes, with his flagship newspaper now defunct and the rest of News International in disarray. But this is small-time compared to how bad things could get if the heat is turned up in the US. With two senators (including Jay Rockefeller, pictured) demanding an investigation, his entire empire could be under threat.
heat rating: 8/10
STRUCTURAL CHANGES AT NEWS CORP
As pressure on Murdoch mounts on both sides of the Atlantic, his role as chairman and chief executive will come under increasing scrutiny. Factions of News Corp investors are already openly hostile – having filed a lawsuit against his corporate governance with a court in Delaware – and Murdoch could find himself under increasing pressure to relinquish some of his control. His announced buyback of some $5bn (£3.2bn) worth of shares could help to consolidate his position, assuming his family do not sell their shares back to the company.
heat rating: 6/10
MADE TO Alter HIS SUCCESSION PLANS
With the heat rising in the US, accusations of nepotism are getting harder to ignore. James Murdoch has been heir apparent since eldest son Lachlan left the empire. But he will face tough questions from over his knowledge of phone hacking. Elisabeth’s place on the board is also controversial.
heat rating: 7/10