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Murdoch takes care of his own, but still won't talk about London tabloid controversy

July 9, 2009 |  3:19 pm


Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has done a pretty good job avoiding the ink-stained-wretches-turned-tweeters at the Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, by mumbling one- or two-word answers to their questions.

Wednesday, when asked whether he'd want to buy Twitter, he said no. Asked about selling MySpace, he said "hell no." Asked by this reporter whether he would buy the Los Angeles Times, he said "too difficult."

But he knows to take care of his own. The News Corp. chairman sat down today with his latest creation -- Fox Business Network -- for an interview here and during which he said the mood of the conference was "bearish."

“I’m shocked at the business mood, which is talking about either that we’re at the bottom or going lower, but that it’s going to take years and years, like five years at least before we see any real growth coming out of this," Murdoch said.

As for the newspaper industry, which Murdoch may be one of the last believers in, he said News Corp. would lead the way for a working pay model for newspapers, but offered no details.

"We have a lot of plans I’m not ready to disclose yet, to really lead the newspaper industry into monetizing what it has," he said.

There are advantages to talking to media outlets you control. One reason Murdoch has been dodging the media here is because of a controversy brewing at his London tabloid papers The Sun and News of the World, which have been accused of using wiretaps to get dirt for their stories.

But Murdoch didn't have to sweat the questions from Fox Business Network. Interviewer Stuart Varney tried to ask him about it and Murdoch said "I'm not talking about that issue today." Varney was more than happy to let it slide.

"No worries, Mr. Chairman," Varney said, adding "that's fine with me."

In fairness to Murdoch, NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker also found time to squeeze in an interview with CNBC today, but otherwise has been hard to find. Last report was he's on the links.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Rupert Murdoch, left, talks with Univision Chairman Haim Saban and Thomas Staggs, chief financial officer of Walt Disney Co. Credit: Matthew Staver / Bloomberg News