Rupert Murdoch is retiring from the boards of Fox and News Corporation, the companies announced Thursday morning, leaving his son Lachlan as the sole executive of the powerful global media empire he built from a small local newspaper company in Australia 70 years ago.
Elder Mr. Murdoch will become chairman of both businesses, the companies said.
92 year old Mr. Murdoch has shown no intention of stepping down or slowing down after naming Lachlan as the operational successor to his business empire in 2019, including selling his vast entertainment holdings to Walt Disney Co.
While the move puts Murdoch family companies more firmly under Lachlan’s control, a bruising succession battle could still develop. After Rupert Murdoch’s death, his four-year-old children must create his final succession among themselves, based on a plan he laid out nearly two decades ago.
Mr. Murdoch has made clear his desire to promote Lachlan regardless. And, even now, he will continue to advise in his emeritus role, Lachlan said in a company release. In his own statement to employees, senior Mr. Murdoch noted that he would do it proactively and systematically.
“We have every reason to be optimistic about the coming years — and I certainly am, and plan to be here to participate in them,” he wrote. “I will watch our broadcasts with a critical eye, read our newspapers and websites and books with great interest, and reach out to you with thoughts, ideas and suggestions.”
Nevertheless, the announcement was epoch-making, as Mr. Murdoch marks at least a formal end to an active career in which he built the most important and politically influential media empire on the planet. His institutions, imbued with a brand of right-wing populism, have amassed the power to shape and sometimes make or break presidents and prime ministers.
He built that empire on three continents, helping to change norms and tastes in journalism, politics, and popular culture throughout the English-speaking world. Using the sensibilities of a self-confident pirate, he acted with a willingness to move fast and break things – before it became fashionable.
Those tactics caused legal trouble and a steady stream of condemnation from critics and one-time allies, especially his Fox News Channel stars former President Donald J. After admitting to Trump’s 2020 election lies – Dominion Poll leads to $787.5 million legal settlement. The institution at its core. Other lawsuits are still pending, including one seeking $2.7 billion in damages.
Lachlan Murdoch, despite having a different look than his father – with tattoos and trademark leather boots – has so far represented continuity for the family firm. Although he has taken a more aggressive stance in entering the streaming sphere – acquiring ad-supported entertainment Streaming service Tubi in 2020 Since then the value has increased – he maintains the position of the company’s most strictly conservative outlets.
He remained in his current role overseeing Fox News in 2020 and was an early supporter of the network’s far-right firebrand Tucker Carlson. After the Dominion settlement in the spring Mr. He was credited within the organization for forcing Carlson. But the younger Mr. Mr. Murdoch, on the Republican ticket.
So far, Lachlan Murdoch has not stepped forward in any aggressive fashion to be the firm face of the company like his father, and the political and media worlds will be watching closely to see if he takes his retirement as an opportunity. So.
The elder Mr. Murdoch’s announcement had no precipitating event, beyond the obvious fact that even a healthy 92-year-old is in his twilight years.
Also, Mr. Among those who know Murdoch, it has long been said that he would like to retire when he looks sharp and energetic – he was on the Fox lot this week – a much diminished figure.
But with his announced retirement, Mr. Ahead of a family battle for control of the empire after Murdoch’s eventual death, he further cemented the company under his chosen business successor.
According to the terms of the trust, which controls the family’s stake in the empire, Mr. Murdoch’s four eldest children – Lachlan Murdoch, Elizabeth Murdoch, James Murdoch and Prudence Murdoch – will have an equal vote in its future following his death; Until then, Mr. Murdoch held the controlling vote.
Rupert Murdoch’s retirement in a sense formalizes an arrangement he had already made after the Disney sale, which put Lachlan in charge of Fox Corp. and News Corp. as the day-to-day executive.
Wisely, the younger Murdoch’s titles — executive chairman and chief executive — have remained effectively unchanged, except for minor changes where he loses the “collateral” he once shared with his father, who held similar titles until Thursday morning.
Mr. Murdoch’s move to anoint Lachlan as his chosen successor was followed by a lasting rift with his younger son James, who was more left-leaning than his father and brother, for example, less austere and advocating rock. A ripped version of Fox News.
He and his wife Catherine have criticized climate change denial at the family-run outlet. On January 6, 2021, James appeared to reference Fox News in a segment when he linked the attack on the U.S. Capitol to “outlets spreading lies to their audience.” Financial Timesaccusing them of unleashing “insidious and uncontrollable forces”.
Those close to James Murdoch, now a major technology and media investor, have raised the possibility that he may seek to rally his two sisters to vote with him to wrest control of the company away from Lachlan.
But it’s unclear whether he has the votes or the will or interest to ultimately force that kind of family feud. Elizabeth, now the Executive Chairman sister The entertainment studio and Prudence have kept their views on the family company private.
Old Mr. If Murdoch has his way, such an outcome would be far-fetched. He has often mentioned that his mother, Dame Elizabeth Murdoch, died just shy of her 104th birthday. As he wrote to employees on Thursday, “Our companies are in robust health, like mine.”
The term “semi-retirement” was used inside the Fox Corporation offices on Thursday, which Mr. Murdoch’s corporate obituary suggests it may be premature to write it off just yet.
In a statement to employees on Thursday, Mr. Murdoch wrote, “The fight for freedom of speech and, ultimately, the fight for freedom of thought has never been more intense.” Lachlan said Mr. As Murdoch writes, he plans to “engage in a contest of ideas every day.”
He also had a message for his longtime nemesis, the so-called “MSM,” or mainstream media, writing that “much of the media” is “in league” with the “elite.” Not members of their rarefied class.”
He criticized the “intellectual talent” of big-name journalists, not unlike the language he used when he first came to America in the early 1970s. That heady, post-Watergate era. Offering an alternative, he said, “We are here to give the public what they want.”
All followed from there: his first foray into the American newspaper market, which revived the clipped, populist style of yesteryear. His creation of Fox Broadcasting, which broke the three-network oligopolistic hold on prime-time television, introduced programming that is now a staple of streaming. The birth of Fox News, which became No. 1 in cable news, gave it what it needed to a very specific audience — conservative-leaning Americans who had long felt neglected by a traditional journalism world.
Yet it led to illegal hacking activity in Britain, giving British tabloid readers what they wanted — juicy inside details about the famous and newsworthy — as well as 2020 election coverage that fueled the Dominion case, helping satisfy Trump fans. Fox built more viewers.
It will fall to Lachlan to satisfy the public amid the new demands and challenges of the streaming era, and a more fragmented media industry – leaving a new chapter to be written by a Murdoch not named Rupert.