Packer v Murdoch – the story behind the story

This week I listened to Mediaweek Australia’s podcast chat with the writer and director of the recent TV show, Packer v Murdoch. You can listen to it here via their site.

David Caesar offers some excellent insights into how the two-part series was put together and the back story to the Packers and Murdoch.

Even though it didn’t get to the ‘magic million’ (number of viewers) I watched both episodes with interest. It was a little weird seeing Tony Greig (oops – actor Alexander England) in the show but the backstory of most appeal to me was how Murdoch went from Sir Keith’s Adelaide to Sydney, and then beyond.

Maybe viewers need to have a ‘hook’ like cricket, as they did for Howzat – and the Packers and Kerry’s control of Nine are part of Australian folklore. Perhaps, in hindsight now, Rupert Murdoch with his American twang and living overseas are harder to get into? Part of Howzat’s appeal was to see the actors being cricketers – Lillee, the Chappells, and of course Kerry Packer. The WSC story too is more accessible, more tangible, but that does not make the Packer / Murdoch story, and issues about media ownership and the relationships between the media and politicians any less important.

In fact I’d argue that it’s stories like Packer / Murdoch that provide an important context and explanation to how and why, who and when and they’re important to reflect on how we reflect ourselves through our media. After all, as an Australian (or US, or UK!) media consumer, you can hardly not be aware of the Murdoch business reach.

The parallels where they exist between a Murdoch and Canadian Ted Rogers (you can read my review of a biography by him here) are worth considering, though the manner in which they’ve made their money has been different. Both came from established families, both learned from the ground up. Rogers went cable and media; Murdoch papers and media. Both had to deal with US regulators.

But back to Sir Frank and Rupert, Kerry and Clyde. This was a show that wasn’t as fun as the cricket, or manic as the magazine wars one. And maybe after a multi-multi year election campaign we were over the idea of talking about some people who’d made lots of money and rang the PM up for a chat.

The podcast is good and if you are interested in Australian media generally or the Packer / Murdoch history more specifically, it’s well worth a listen.


Image courtesy Channel Nine.

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