D6: Rupert Murdoch for Obama? Not Quite…. But

Today at the D6:Conference, the corporate doyens and business leaders were out in full force, both on and off stage. Those who were grilled on stage showed were true to their form – Amazon’s Jeff Bezos charmed everyone with optimism for Kindle, Yahoo’s Jerry Yang was all emotion and patience, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook showed that he is still a young fella brimming with big dreams.

But it was the wily old Fox, News Corp founder Rupert Murdoch who proved to the most charming, candid, amusing, honest and informative at the same time. Candid enough to admit that there isn’t anyone to really compete with him. Honest enough to point out what a mess both Microsoft and Yahoo made out of their deal, and Google is still a great partner. About Yahoo and Microsoft he said: I’m mystified. I can’t understand the whole thing? Neither can we Mr. Murdoch. He talked at length about the future of media, both on and offline. His responses to a barrage of questions was lucid and refreshingly without corporate speak. He talked about online video, Hulu and future of movie distribution.

Murdoch told the audience he didn’t sue YouTube because it provided promotion for shows like the Simpsons. And Hulu, said Murdoch, was a way for News Corp to control its copyrights. Murdoch expressed interested in online alternatives to broadcast television and traditional film releases, but said he still expects television to be “central.” Releasing movies only online? — he said that’s possible, but hasn’t been tried yet (well, not by Murdoch’s crowd). He’d like to see movies released on all screens at the same time but vested interests in the distribution chain oppose it.

When the conversation turned to politics things got really interesting. Mr. Murdoch can hardly be acused of being a democrat or a liberal, but he viewed Barack Obama positively and wanted to meet Obama. “I want to know if he’s going to walk the walk,” comparing him to rock star. He didn’t quite endorse Barack, but he said Senator John McCain, the Republican candidate for US president has problems and challenges.

Read full transcript on All Things D, and watch the video. Photo and video courtesy of the D6 conference. Photo by Asa Mathat.

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