News Corp.’s divorce of convenience: publishing loses Hollywood’s embrace

News Corporation is shuffling executives as it prepares to carry out the big split of its TV and movie operations from its more challenged news media businesses.

But, whilst the split entrusts some loyal lieutenants with safeguarding the news business, it has also caused a little family falling-out of its own…

In a move that makes it sound more like Fox Group is being separated from News Corp than News Corp is being split in two, the news and book publishing assets will remain named “News Corporation”, while TV studios, movie studios and pay-TV platforms become “Fox Group”. The former will be led by Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones editor-in-chief Robert Thompson, along with Rupert Murdoch as chair.

But Thompson’s promotion has caused the resignation of Tom Mockridge as the CEO of the troubled UK publishing unit News International — just five months after replacing Rebekah Brooks at the former News Of The World publisher — seemingly affronted at being overlooked (his email to staff, via

In the other significant move, The Daily publisher Greg Clayman is being promoted to run “global digital strategy” – effectively replacing departed chief digital officer Jonathan Miller alongside the recently-promoted technology chief Paul Cheesbrough.

Clayman’s role will now be significant, charged with steering the digital re-invention of newspaper brands including the WSJ, The Times, The New York Post as well as the HarperCollins book publisher. It looks like some aspects of his former title, The Daily, could be injected in to the Post at least.

It is hard not to read the amputation of News Corp’s TV and movie businesses as a victory for president Chase Carey and shareholders but a defeat for Murdoch. Carey has long been recognised as a bigger exponent of the Fox-related units, talking much about how they are licensing shows and films to new distribution services, while the Murdochs were left carrying the can for failures at the corporation’s UK newspapers.

But the whole news business outlook is contracting. Now the new-look, publishing-only News Corporation will have to survive without the luxury of movie and TV income and will need to stand on its own two feet as the industry continues going through massive digital disruption.

For one, Fox Group is better financed than its newsier siblings. In the recent Q3, News Corp’s cable programming, filmed entertainment and TV businesses (excluding direct satellite) all grew operating income by around a fifth, while in the publishing division was almost halved.

Now we are about to see how some of the big news media brands perform outside of a diversified holding company…