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Spain's Ousted Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar to Sit on News Corporation Board

Reported by Marie Therese - June 22, 2006

The Guardian reports today that Rupert Murdoch has appointed a new member to his News Corporation Board of Directors. It is former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, the man who defied the will of his people and sent Spanish troops to Iraq as part of the coalition of the wiiling. Aznar was thrown out of office in the last elections because his party attempted to lay blame for the March 11, 2004 Madrid bombings on a local separatist group rather than on the actual Al Qaeda perpetrators. The ex-Prime Minister has been a friend of Mr. Murdoch's for several years.

"Mr Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corp, said Mr Aznar's experience as prime minister of Spain would benefit the company's board. Mr Murdoch has been friends with Mr Aznar for several years. 'Mr Aznar earned worldwide respect for his strong economic record and unflinching stand against domestic and international terrorism,' Mr Murdoch said. 'His impressive grasp of world politics and the realities of globalisation, as well as his clear commitment to fiscal rectitude, will be of great benefit to News Corporation's stockholders.'

"Mr Aznar will be News Corp's 14th board member and its first non-native English speaker. Other directors include Rod Eddington, former chief executive of British Airways, and Mr Murdoch's eldest son, Lachlan. (N. B. Viet Dinh, Georgetown law professor, Asst. Attorney General under John Ashcroft and architect of the Patriot Act also sits on the News Corp board.)

"News Corp insiders said Mr Aznar's appointment was not linked to any News Corp interest in Spanish or Latin American media assets. News Corp is currently concentrating its corporate efforts on negotiations with the cable tycoon John Malone over swapping his 18% stake in the group for a mixture of News Corp assets and cash.

"Mr Aznar has led the Foundation for Social Analysis and Studies, a right-leaning thinktank, and lectured at Georgetown University, Washington. News Corp described him as 'a firm supporter of Spain's close relationship with the US and of the European Union's commitment to promoting greater freedom and economic reforms'."

American-based Univsion has been in play this week. However, a consortium of companies, headed by Grupo Televisa, has experienced some difficulties this past week as the Carlysle Group, The Blackstone Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts have all withdrawn from a deal to purchase the powerhouse Spanish-language network, which is based in Los Angeles. CA.

There is a second group interested in the company, including a member of the News Corp empire.

"That consortium is made up of former Fox Family Channel owner Haim Saban, Providence, Madison Dearborn, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Texas Pacific Group. That group bid in the neighborhood of $35 per share, an offer that was reportedly rejected by Univision." (Source: TheStreet.com)

Is Murdoch's long arm behind this move ? If so, it would give the conservative, right-wing Murdoch a solid foothold in the Hispanic media market at a time when the Republican party's image among the Spanish-speaking community is one step above a cow pie.

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