Murdoch staved off legislation that could strangle his US business interest by buying off a senator.
"Congress was on the verge of limiting any company from owning local television stations that reached more than 35 percent of American homes. Mr. Murdoch’s Fox stations reached nearly 39 percent, meaning he would have to sell some," the Times reporters write. "In a late-night meeting just before Thanksgiving of 2003, Congressional leaders agreed to raise the limit — to 39 percent."Tsk, tsk, tsk.
Sen. Trent Lott had opposed raising the limit.
"But in the end, he, too, agreed to the compromise," reports the Times. "It turns out he had a business connection to Mr. Murdoch. Months before, HarperCollins, Mr. Murdoch’s publishing house, had signed a $250,000 book deal to publish Mr. Lott’s memoir, 'Herding Cats,' records and interviews show."
[...]The Times notes other payouts by Murdoch's publishing arm to major politicians -- $4.5 million to Newt Gingrich, $25,000 to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), $142,000 to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) -- all of whom sit on the Commerce or Judiciary Committees overseeing the media business.