Murdochs face threat to News Corp control

For the first time, Rupert Murdoch and his family face a serious challenge to their control of News Corp.

On Friday, at the company's annual meeting in New York, shareholders were due to vote on whether News Corp should renew the "poison pill". This is an anti-takeover device it adopted two years ago to thwart efforts by one of its American investors, John Malone, to seize control of the media conglomerate.

Should the "pill" be overturned, Malone's company, Liberty Media, which owns just under 20 per cent of the News Corp stock, could be a threat to Murdoch's control of the company. This will especially be the case if Malone should, as he has threatened, buy more stock. At best, the Murdoch family owns about 30 per cent of the voting stock, which some say is marginally thin.

A vote against killing the "poison pill" would please Murdoch, but may result in the whole issue landing in the US courts, which could weaken Murdoch's negotiating powers.

News Corp's interests in the UK include Sky TV and News International.

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