Murdoch: I Invested in Channel 10 Out of Friendship, Not Business

DAVOS, Switzerland - "My investment in Channel 10 is marginal. It is for friendship, not business," media tycoon Rupert Murdoch told TheMarker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Murdoch, the controlling shareholder in media giant News Corp, is a junior partner in Channel 10 through Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan's New Regency. Murdoch, with Australian billionaire James Packer, holds a 40 percent stake in New Regency.

Six months ago, Channel 10 announced that News Corp was buying a 9 percent stake in it. The press release accompanying the deal quoted Murdoch as saying the Israeli acquisition served News Corp.'s aim of expanding its business throughout Europe and the entire region. However, in Davos on Friday, Murdoch said forthrightly that the investment stemmed mostly from social motives.

Asked by TheMarker if he meant his friendship with former Israeli billionaire Arnon Milchan, Mudoch answered in the affirmative.

Murdoch participated Friday morning in a session titled "Who is shaping the agenda" about the impact of Internet and new technology on media, democracy and the business world. Murdoch said that media conglomerates are losing influence amid the continued explosion of news Web sites, blogs and podcasts.

News Corp owns some of the world's largest television and news businesses. In the past year, the conglomerate has made major investments in Internet, after buying the online social network MySpace for $530 million. The impressively timed deal hit the headlines just before social networking itself became the talk of the town. Analysts now value My Space at anywhere between $5 billion and $10 billion.

Murdoch was cautious in talking about MySpace and its possible impact on youth. According to Murdoch, "People like the site, they find friends and common interests there, and that seems to be why 2 million new users join every week."