Rupert Murdoch stepping down from Fox and News Corp

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Rupert Murdoch is stepping down as chairman of Fox Corporation and News Corp, the companies announced Thursday, after decades of building the conservative media empire.
Murdoch annual party

Murdoch’s eldest son Lachlan will take over in November.

Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty

Key Takeaways
  • Murdoch’s eldest son Lachlan will take over when the 92-year-old billionaire exits his roles in November and becomes chairman emeritus, Fox said in a statement.
  • Murdoch said, “the time is right for me to take on different roles,” in a memo sent to employees obtained by CNN, adding that his son will be a “passionate principled leader” of both companies.
  • Murdoch will continue to provide “valued counsel” to both companies, Lachlan Murdoch, 52, said in a statement while thanking his father.
  • The Murdoch family business empire is divided into two publicly traded companies: Fox Corp. controls Fox News and the Fox broadcast TV network, while News Corp. owns print products like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and HarperCollins publishing house.
Forbes Valuation

$17.3 billion. That’s how much Forbes estimates Murdoch and his family are worth, nearly all from shares of Fox Corp. and News Corp.

Key Background

Born in Melbourne into a newspaper family, Murdoch first got into Australia’s newspaper business in the 1950s. Twenty five years later he purchased Twentieth Century Fox and became a Hollywood executive, and launched the Fox broadcast network. He launched Fox News in 1996 in an effort to compete with CNN, hiring Roger Ailes to start the conservative network that later became the nation’s most-watched cable news channel. He acquired the Wall Street Journal in 2007.

Murdoch chose to sell many of Fox Corp’s assets in a mega-merger with Disney in 2019, giving Disney the 20th Century Fox film and TV studios and majority control of Hulu while Murdoch ended up with a sizable stake in Disney. The nonagenarian billionaire has often courted controversy, including for Fox News’ approach to news. Murdoch was also embroiled in a years-long phone hacking scandal after reporters at News of the World, a British tabloid the billionaire owned, were accused of hacking celebrities’ and politicians’ phones. News of the World shut down in 2011 and settled lawsuits over the scandal for some $139 million in 2013.

Tangent

In recent years, Murdoch’s reign was tainted by a number of scandals, including Fox’s role in former President Donald Trump’s false election fraud claims following the 2020 presidential election. Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News over claims made on the network that the company’s voting machines were used to rig the 2020 election in President Joe Biden’s favor. In a deposition, Murdoch admitted Fox should have toned down the false claims presented on the network after the election saying: “I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it in hindsight.”

Big Number

$787.5 million. That’s how much Fox Corp. ultimately paid in a defamation settlement with Dominion Voting Systems. A separate lawsuit from Smartmatic, a Dominion competitor, with similar claims is still outstanding.

Surprising Fact

In 2020, Rupert Murdoch’s son James—who was once thought to be a potential successor—announced he was leaving the company because of “disagreements over certain editorial content published by the Company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions.” James Murdoch was not as conservative as his brother Lachlan and his father, and donated more than $1 million to back then-candidate Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign. Despite James Murdoch’s separation from the family business, he and three of his siblings will control a trust where the Murdoch family’s voting shares are held when the family patriarch dies, the Journal reported. The family drama over control of the media empire was said to have inspired the HBO hit Succession.

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