News Corp mogul Murdoch has cancer

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The Independent Online

Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul, will undergo radiotherapy next month after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, it was announced last night. He was told he had cancer by doctors in Los Angeles after a routine medical check up last week.

News Corporation, the company through which the Australian-born US citizen, 69, runs his global media empire, moved to play down the seriousness of the illness last night.

A spokesman said Mr Murdoch would not be reducing his workload, although speculation is likely to intensify over his potential successor. "His doctors have told Mr Murdoch the prognosis is very good and that it is an extremely low-grade form of the cancer," the spokesman said.

"He has no intention of changing his work schedule. He will begin brief sessions of radiotherapy in about a month. The treatment will last several weeks and his doctors are confident it will eliminate the problem."

The chances of surviving prostate cancer, the most common form of the disease in men, have improved dramatically through better screening and the development of a test which enables earlier diagnoses. In the UK, according to the latest figures, about 50 per cent of sufferers are still alive after five years.

Nevertheless, there will be an inevitable question mark over Mr Murdoch's chairmanship of News Corp which controls huge chunks of the world's media, including newspapers and television stations in the UK, Australia, the US and Asia. In Britain he controls The Times and The Sun.

He promoted Peter Chernin, the American television boss who built News Corp's Fox Network into a force to be reckoned with, to number two within the organisation last year. Mr Murdoch made comments to Newsweek which indicated Mr Chernin may well be his successor.

That was the first time he had talked about a succession, and it took News Corp business watchers by surprise. It had always been assumed that his three children who work in the business would be left to fight for control of the empire.

James, his youngest son, is currently pushing News Corp's internet and new-media divisions while his elder brother Lachlan, is currently running News Corp's Australian interests. Elisabeth, the eldest of the three, works at BSkyB in London, where News Corp has a 40 per cent stake.

Mr Murdoch married his third wife, Wendy Deng, in June last year.