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Sir Douglas Frank Hewson Packer, KBE (3 December 1906 – 1 May 1974), was an Australian media proprietor who controlled Australian Consolidated Press and the Nine Network.

Born in Kings Crossmarker, in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, New South Walesmarker, to Ethel Maude, née Hewson and R.C. Packer who started the family's association with the media as a journalist in New South Walesmarker. R.C. Packer became editor of The Sunday Times and was a founder of Smith's Weekly and The Daily Guardian, which was published by Smith's Newspaper Ltd.

He attended Wahroonga Grammar School and Sydney Church of England Grammar Schoolmarker, however he did not sit for the Intermediate Certificate. In 1923, Packer became a cadet journalist on his father's paper, The Daily Guardian. Four years later he was a director of the company. In 1933, Packer started the Australian Women's Weekly and then transformed The Daily Telegraph into one of Australia's leading newspapers.

Packer inherited his media interests on his father's death in 1934. In 1936, he joined with E.G. Theodore's Sydney Newspapers and Associated Newspapers to form Australian Consolidated Press. He was chairman of ACP from 1936 until 1974.

When television was introduced to Australia in 1956, Packer, along with the other major newspaper publishers (Fairfax, HWT and David Syme), became a significant television network shareholder under the federal government's "dual formula", which allowed each capital city to have two commercial networks and one ABCmarker.

The Packer media empire was known for its conservative leanings, and was a strong backer of long-serving Prime Minister Robert Menzies.

Packer was a keen yachtsman, boxer, golfer and polo player. He was on the Australian Jockey Club's committee for 12 years and won the Caulfield Cup with his horse, Columnist. He was also chairman of a syndicate that built the yachts Gretel and Gretel II to challenge for the America's Cup in 1962 and 1970.

In 1972, Packer sold his newspaper flagship, The Daily Telegraph, to Rupert Murdoch, a decision he reportedly regretted.

Packer was married to Gretel Bullmore and later to Florence Porges. He had two sons, Clyde and Kerry, with his first wife, Gretel. On 1 May 1974, Packer died of heart failure, leaving an estate valued at $1.34 million. On his death he passed his empire to Kerry, as he had fallen out with his eldest son Clyde in 1972.

In 1992, journalist Max Walsh told the Media Inquiry that Packer exerted undue newsroom influence. "Sir Frank was knee-deep in [the] editorial policy of the Telegraph," Walsh said.

Packer was inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 1999.

A biography, Sir Frank Packer: The Young Master, was written by Bridget Griffen-Foley and published in 2000.

References

  1. House of Representatives Select Committee on the Print Media 1992, News and Fair Facts: The Australian Print Media Industry, Report, AGPS, Canberra, p.263



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