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Murdoch Successor at News Corp Depends on Timing

Eighty year old Rupert Murdoch will leave some very big shoes to fill whenever he leaves his post as CEO of News Corp. He's the ultimate media mogul, building a news and entertainment empire piece by piece, through acquisition and organic growth. So who's next in line for the throne?

James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch and Chairman and Chief Executive of News Corporation, Europe and Asia.
Miguel Villagran | Getty Images
James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch and Chairman and Chief Executive of News Corporation, Europe and Asia.

Murdoch has made it clear he wants his family to remain in charge of News Corp .

Most recently, he advanced that process by appointing his son James Murdoch to the newly-created post of "Deputy COO" as well as CEO of the company's international divisions. This position gives Murdoch the access and experience to prepare him to take the helm.

It moves him to New York, the company headquarters and it allows him to work closely with COO and Deputy Chairman Chase Carey. It also exposes him to parts of the business he hasn't dealt closely with yet.

While he's quite experienced in Europe and Asia, his responsibilities are broadened to include the Fox TV networks, Dow Jones, and the Wall Street Journal, and the film studio, 20th Century Fox.

But James may not replace his father immediately. It all depends on when Rupert Murdoch leaves the top spot. If he steps down soon, COO Chase Carey would likely take over.

He knows the company well, has worked with Murdoch closely, and he has the corporate experience, both at DirecTV, where he was CEO, and at News Corp, to run this kind of public company.

Chase Carey, Deputy Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of News Corporation.
Brendan Smialowski | Getty Images
Chase Carey, Deputy Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of News Corporation.

The great respect for Carey as an executive and operator provides even more reassurance to Wall Street that there will be consistency atop News Corp after Murdoch's departure.

Rupert Murdoch has worked to deepen his family bench at the company beyond James. Earlier this year he brought his daughter Elisabeth back into the fold by purchasing her TV production company 'Shine Group.'

She worked at the company, at BSkyB, before leaving to found Shine Limited in march 2008. Now she's expected to join the board as a voting member. Her brother Lachlan is not currently involved in the company.

There's little question that NewsCorp will have consistent management, familiar with the company, when Rupert leaves. But there are plenty of unknowns when it comes to how his replacement will be as acquisitive as Rupert, who built the empire with some major acquisitions, like Dow Jones.

Case Carey is expected to be more disciplined in terms of his use of capital. It's too soon to say what we should expect from James. But you can bet that Wall Street analysts will be closely watching his moves in his new role for a sign of what to expect if and when.

Watch CNBC all day Friday, April 29 for special "Heir To The Throne" reports about CEO succession plans at five companies. Julia Boorstin reports more details about News Corp. on "Power Lunch," 1pm ET; Phil Lebeau reports about Ford on "Street Signs," 2pm ET; and Mary Thompson reports about AIG on "Closing Bell," 3-5pm ET.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.