Giving up a public holiday to spend an afternoon with one of the most eligible millionaires in the world is just one of those sacrifices you have to make in journalism. At least James Murdoch - tall, lean and tanned - is by no means an eyesore. And his family has been known to spend holidays sprawled out on a sleek yacht - by the looks of it amply stocked with chilled champagne. The youngest son of Rupert Murdoch has also been less dogmatic than his siblings in his career path, slightly rebellious in fact. While Elisabeth and Lachlan slogged it out at Ivy League universities, he dropped out of Harvard. While they interned at News Corp, he went on archaeological digs. Instead of going directly into the family business, James set up a hip-hop label. He also has tattoos. Unfortunately the allure of a media empire that reaches two-thirds of the earth's population meant the interview was relegated to Star TV's offices in Hunghom. It was Diet Coke, a clinical boardroom and a strict hour of his time. No Murdoch yacht or champagne. The junior mogul claims to barely have time to pee. He insisted on off-loading a protracted spiel on Star TV, 'where it's headed,' before entertaining any questions. Fortunately, he speaks at break-neck speed. The upshot of the monologue is that Star will actually break even next year if things go according to plan. Not bad for a relative newcomer to the family dynasty. 'Look, obviously I'm young, and that's fine [he is 27]. But four years working in digital media is quite a long time.' The junior Mr Murdoch has served as president of News America Digital Publishing - News Corp's digital media arm - since the division's inception in November 1997. It later changed its name to News Digital Media. 'Four years ago, there were four main Internet companies. The world has changed so much in four years, but from day one . . . I do feel that we have been ahead of the curve on that, feel very comfortable with it.' 'Obviously I have TV experience,' he continues, 'been involved in it for my whole life, involved all around it.' He is the hi-tech, new-media offspring, catapulted to executive vice-president status in News Corp in September to steer the company's Internet and digital media ventures. Mr Murdoch seemed in particular to slide into the Star TV spotlight in recent months, (he is now co-chairman), notably after the sudden departure of chief executive Gareth Chang Cheng-chung. This was rumoured to be a result of News Corp dissatisfaction with his inability to turn Star's fortunes around. The company has posted losses of about US$30 million a year since News Corp bought it for US$850 million from Richard Li Tzar-kai in 1993. At that time, it had only five channels and penetrated 11 million cable homes. It now has an audience of 300 million - or 94 million cable homes - and has 30 channels in seven languages, Mr Murdoch boasts. In the next five years, he anticipates 800 million individual subscribers. The future, however, hinges on Star's interactive business. 'What we really see now is the acceleration of that process,' he said, with huge growth projected in Star's Internet services. The goal is 'to offer a multi-service bouquet as well as active channels, accelerate the natural revolution into Interactive, e-commerce services . . .' Mr Murdoch barely takes a breath during the 20-minute oration on the Star road map. 'Other people say 'we will make content', just like making paper clips. We have to make something people are going to want to watch. At News Corp in general, that's our core competence.' Content and brand leadership are pivotal to Star's success, he insists; brand, content, technological innovation and the ability to build a network of investments and alliances. One such example is the News Corp link-up with SingTel: 'It's really just starting, something we are very excited about.' He is perhaps less excited about Star's joint venture with Cable & Wireless HKT, because he had to be prompted to discuss it. The companies have formed a joint venture to provide interactive home entertainment, digital TV and Internet services in the region, with HKT taking a 60 per cent stake, and Star 40 per cent. However, the recent takeover battle for HKT has hardly cemented cordial relations between Mr Murdoch and Pacific Century CyberWorks chairman Mr Li. Things had already been less than blissful in the first place between the companies after Rupert Murdoch paid Mr Li what has been called an inflated price for Star. The two sons of tycoons are moreover both seeking to create networks for the digital delivery of entertainment, information and e-commerce transactions. Mr Murdoch, unfortunately, cannot be lured into a slagging match. 'My focus as far as the joint venture is concerned is on execution,' he says. 'All I can say really is we have 700 people in that joint venture, many who are HKT people.' He seems slightly weary of being asked about Mr Li. Or perhaps he is just weary of Mr Li. 'As to Richard Li and all that stuff . . . I think Richard Li has been busy doing stuff over there [at PCCW]. We both talk about broadband . . . but I'm really focused on the joint-venture execution,' he says. 'We will compete elsewhere. One of the hallmarks to act like adults is to compete and kill in other areas,' he quips, swiftly qualifying the remark as a generalisation. Mr Murdoch's zeal and aggressive business edge does seem to be a complete about-face from his earlier years. He studied history and film animation - puppet animation - at Harvard. He soon dropped out of college, however. 'I thought it would be a fun thing to build a record company,' which he did with some friends. 'So no, I didn't think I was going to come into the business.' Rawkus Entertainment turned out to be a mini-success story, and kicked off his career with News Corp when the business was folded into the media giant. In its first year Rawkus had US$500,000 in revenue. By 1998, it was turning a small profit, with revenue of US$2.5 million. 'When the opportunity came,' Mr Murdoch says, 'it was something I couldn't turn down. Information and entertainment and contacting people: it's a very exciting business.' The youngest Murdoch has even been tipped by some insiders to be in the running for the top job some day, leap-frogging Lachlan, long believed to be the natural successor. James, however, tows the corporate line on the billion-dollar question. 'We are a public company. Ultimately, I feel very lucky I have been able to work here, given the opportunity to work here,' he said. 'We don't control the company, we have a board, tons of senior executives, I think my father has been very clear about [News Corp president] Peter Chernin being number two, I work for Peter Chernin.' He stresses: 'In terms of governance - God forbid something happens - he has been clear about that. The board ultimately decides.' Rupert Murdoch, 69, was diagnosed with prostate cancer last month. How is his dad? 'Dad's doing fine, he's doing OK.' The Murdoch family as a typical unit is particularly difficult to get your head around. After all, their family fortune is in the region of US$5 billion. The siblings have taken different media routes within the company, though Elisabeth last month said she was quitting her job at News Corp's British pay-TV company BSkyB to set up her own film and TV firm. The media industry power-plays smack of soap opera-esque back-stabbing and rivalry. 'The reality is we are a particularly close family, we get along like any other family,' Mr Murdoch insists. 'It's a big company and there's plenty to do, I try not to get distracted by that stuff.' He is flattered when it is suggested that he is the sibling who takes after his father the most. It is, however, slightly surreal when he then says 'I love my dad, we're a normal family in that way.' It seems unimaginable that the Murdoch clan - with their US$44 billion global media company - would ever indulge in human displays of affection. After all, between producing and distributing motion pictures and television programming, satellite and cable broadcasting, the publication of newspapers, magazines and books, how do they find the time? Mr Murdoch has not even had time to move out of his hotel. Nor has he managed to take the ferry from Hunghom to Central. He is, however, committed to staying in Hong Kong, and is house-hunting. Apart from that, 'I read, I lie to myself that I'm going to exercise. Now there's so much to do. I don't get a second to go to the bathroom let alone play tennis. I used to read a lot of books simultaneously. Now it's going very slowly.' The hour was up. Mr Murdoch retreated to his empire-building, a dozen television sets flickering in his pristine office, the family yacht bobbing about empty somewhere. If you can't enjoy it, who wants to be a millionaire? James Murdoch, 27, is executive vice-president of News Corp, responsible for Internet and digital media ventures. He is also co-chairman of Star TV. The youngest son of Rupert Murdoch, he oversees the company's international music businesses, including Rawkus Entertainment and the Festival and Mushroom record groups. He founded News Corp's US-based interactive publishing subsidiary, News Digital Media, in November 1997, and was its president until September 1999. Mr Murdoch serves on the boards of the YankeeNets, Inner City Scholarship Fund, Jump Start and New York Police Museum. Born in London, raised in New York, he studied puppet animation at Harvard.