They are sons of strong women. Both have sparred publicly with their heirs, both are plotting to conquer China, and both seem to view immortality as their best succession plan.
But what really unites Viacom Inc. Chairman Sumner M. Redstone and News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch is that, to a degree almost unknown today among heads of U.S. public companies, they can do as they please.
Redstone and Murdoch are part of a line of autocratic media titans stretching to CNN founder Ted Turner, William S. Paley of CBS, Henry Luce of Time Inc., newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst and such lions of early Hollywood as Louis B. Mayer and Adolph Zukor. Their power derives not just from their dominant stakes in the companies they’ve built but also from their inclination to use it.