Murdoch picks another Kiwi

Mike Darcey named to head embattled tycoon's British publishing interests.

File photo / Getty Images
File photo / Getty Images

Another Kiwi has risen to the top of Rupert Murdoch's unravelling inner circle, following in the footsteps of Tom Mockridge and Sam Chisholm.

Yesterday, Mike Darcey was named chief executive of Murdoch's British publishing interests at News International, replacing Mockridge - who missed out on a promotion and left the firm.

Both men follow in the footsteps of Chisholm, a former Auckland floor wax salesman and larger-than-life character who ran Murdoch's British pay TV interests back in the 1990s.

Darcey, 47, has been chief operating officer at Murdoch-controlled pay TV operator BSky-B since November 2006 after working as director of strategy.

Sky TV chief executive John Fellet speaks highly of Darcey, who he said had been generous with his time, dropping in to Sky studios during holidays with family in Wellington to explain the Northern Hemisphere developments.

"He's a good guy," Fellet said.

Darcey has a bachelors's degree in science and statistics from Victoria University in Wellington and a master's from the London School of Economics.

Before joining Murdoch he worked in business and was an economic adviser to Lexecon.

Darcey replaced Mockridge, who resigned from the News International job after missing out on a promotion to run the group print operations under a big restructuring that splits entertainment operations out to a new arm, Fox Group.

In July last year - after successfully steering Sky Italia - Murdoch appointed Mockridge to replace Rebekah Brooks, who had become implicated in the hacking fiasco.

A former Taranaki Daily News reporter in Taumarunui, he moved to Australia in 1980 and eventually became economics editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, and later an economic adviser to Australian Treasurer Paul Keating.

He joined Murdoch in 1991 and was head of Foxtel for three years before moving to Hong Kong, later returning to New Zealand as managing director of Murdoch-controlled Independent Newspapers, subsequently sold to Fairfax. Through running Sky Italia he rose through the group.

Chisholm made his name heading Murdoch's UK TV interests in what later came to be known as BSky-B.

But he also became closely closely linked with another media baron, James Packer. At one point he oversaw New Zealand's Prime TV on behalf of Packer's Nine Network.

One New Zealand media executive remembers Chisholm's approach at an industry meeting in Britain where invited to a brainstorming session he quipped: "You bring the brains - I'll do the storming."

News Group

* News Corporation: Media group that owns TV platforms, newspapers around the world and the Fox movie studio.

* News International: UK publishing division pilloried in the phone hacking scandal. Owner of the Sun, the Times and the now closed News of the World.

* News Ltd: Australian division whose interests include the Australian, half of Foxtel pay TV group, and control of New Zealand's Sky TV.

* News Corporation is being split into two divisions for entertainment and publishing, leading to changes at the top of News International.

- NZ Herald

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