Elisabeth Murdoch takes swipe at brother James

Elisabeth Murdoch takes swipe at brother James

Elisabeth Murdoch takes swipe at brother James

Updated 24 August 2012, 14:36 AEST

Elisabeth Murdoch takes a swipe at her brother James and the ethics of News Corp, saying "profit without purpose" is a recipe for disaster.

Ms Murdoch, who was invited to give the keynote address at the Edinburgh Television Festival, said profit without purpose was a recipe for disaster, and the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World newspaper showed the need for a rigorous set of values

A successful television producer who was overlooked for senior jobs at News Corp that went first to her brother Lachlan and then James, she admitted giving the lecture was either a brave or mad move.

In a speech offering a chance to show her credentials to take over her father Rupert's empire, Ms Murdoch said a lack of morality could become a dangerous own goal for capitalism and for freedom.

"News (Corp) is a company that is currently asking itself some very significant and difficult questions about how some behaviours fell so far short of its values," she told the packed and receptive audience of British media executives.

"Personally, I believe one of the biggest lessons of the past year has been the need for any organisation to discuss, affirm and institutionalise a rigorous set of values based on an explicit statement of purpose."

There had been speculation she would use the address to position herself for an eventual role in News Corp.

Her tone has been very different to that of her younger brother James, who gave the same lecture three years ago.

Rupert Murdoch closed the News of the World last year amid public anger that its journalists had hacked into the voicemails of people from celebrities to victims of crime.

A number of former executives have appeared in court in connection with the case, which prompted the government to set up the Leveson judicial inquiry into press standards.

Ms Murdoch has rarely spoken in public, despite her role as the founder of the successful production company Shine.

Referring to James's 2009 speech, she said his assertion that the only reliable, durable and perpetual guarantor of media independence was profit had fallen short of the mark.

"The reason his statement sat so uncomfortably is that profit without purpose is a recipe for disaster," she said, perhaps in an allusion to charges that News of the World journalists broke the law to produce ever-more salacious stories and maintain circulation.

"Profit must be our servant, not our master," she said, adding that colleagues needed to accept that they had a responsibility to each other and not just the bottom line.

"It's increasingly apparent that the absence of purpose - or of a moral language - within government, media or business, could become one of the most dangerous own goals for capitalism and for freedom."

ABC/wires