Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul who built a global empire of news, entertainment and sports channels, has announced his resignation as chairman of Fox Corporation and News Corporation, the two companies that house his media assets. The decision, which came as a surprise to many in the industry, will take effect on October 1, 2023.
A new era for Murdoch’s media businesses
Murdoch, who is 92 years old, said in a memo to employees that he will remain involved in the news and ideas that have shaped his professional life, but that he will take on different roles. He did not specify what those roles would be, but he praised his son Lachlan Murdoch, who will become the sole chairman of both Fox and News Corp.
“Lachlan is a passionate, principled leader who has demonstrated his commitment to excellence, innovation and growth,” Murdoch wrote. “He has the vision and experience to guide our businesses into the future.”
Lachlan Murdoch, 51, is currently the co-chairman of both companies and the chief executive officer of Fox. He oversees the right-wing cable channel Fox News, which is the most-watched network in the U.S., as well as Fox Sports, Fox TV Stations and other broadcasting assets. He also has a stake in Starlink, a satellite internet service provider that competes with SpaceX.
News Corp owns some of the most prestigious and influential newspapers in the world, such as The Wall Street Journal, The Times of London and The Australian. It also owns HarperCollins, one of the largest book publishers in the world, and Dow Jones, a financial news and data company.
A controversial legacy for Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch’s resignation marks the end of an era for one of the most powerful and controversial figures in media history. He started his career as a newspaper owner in Australia in the 1950s, inheriting his father’s business. He then expanded his empire to Britain, where he acquired The Sun and The Times, and later to the U.S., where he bought The New York Post and launched Fox News.
Murdoch’s media outlets have been known for their conservative and populist editorial stance, often supporting right-wing politicians and causes. They have also been accused of spreading misinformation, propaganda and sensationalism, as well as engaging in unethical practices such as phone hacking and bribery.
Murdoch’s influence has extended beyond media to politics and business. He has been a close ally of former U.S. President Donald Trump, former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other conservative leaders around the world. He has also been involved in several mergers and acquisitions that have reshaped the media landscape, such as buying 21st Century Fox from his family in 2019 and selling most of its assets to Disney for $71 billion.
Murdoch’s resignation comes amid a changing media environment that poses new challenges and opportunities for his businesses. Fox News faces competition from other conservative outlets such as Newsmax and OAN, as well as from streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon. News Corp faces pressure from digital rivals such as Google and Facebook, as well as from declining print revenues and readership.
What’s next for Murdoch’s media empire?
Murdoch’s resignation raises questions about the future direction and strategy of his media empire. Some analysts have speculated that Lachlan Murdoch may seek to recombine Fox and News Corp into one company, a move that Rupert Murdoch had proposed last year but later abandoned. Others have suggested that Lachlan Murdoch may pursue new acquisitions or partnerships to diversify his portfolio and expand his reach.
Lachlan Murdoch has said that he shares his father’s vision and values for their media businesses, but he has also shown some signs of independence and innovation. He has invested in digital platforms such as Tubi, a free streaming service that Fox acquired last year for $440 million. He has also supported some editorial changes at Fox News, such as hiring more diverse hosts and contributors.
Lachlan Murdoch will face many challenges and opportunities as he takes over the helm of his father’s media empire. He will have to balance the interests of his shareholders, employees, customers and regulators. He will also have to deal with the legacy and expectations of his father, who remains one of the most influential and controversial figures in media history.