Rupert Murdoch to step down from Fox chairmanship in November

Disney’s Robert Iger (l.) and Fox’s Rupert Murdoch, who sold much of the studio he owned to him in 2017.

Lachlan Murdoch ascends to throne

While somewhat calling it a career, 92-year old Rupert Murdoch is stepping down as chairman of both Fox Corp. and News Corporation, effective in Mid-November when the next shareholders’ meeting takes place.  

Murdoch is transiting to chairman emeritus of each board, meaning it’s a honorary title granted to someone who retires from a position of distinction but is allowed to continue using the previous title, as he was co-chairman of both companies. In other words, he is relinquishing day-to-day operations while retaining a title.

Taking over for him is his son Lachlan Murdoch, who becomes chairman of News Corp. and will continue as executive chairman and CEO of Fox Corp. 

“On behalf of the Fox and News Corp, boards of directors, leadership teams, and all the shareholders who have benefited from his hard work, I congratulate my father on his remarkable 70-year career,” the younger Murdoch said. “We thank him for his vision, his pioneering spirit, his steadfast determination, and the enduring legacy he leaves to the companies he founded and countless people he has impacted. We are grateful that he will serve as chairman emeritus and know he will continue to provide valued counsel to both companies.” 

The news doesn’t as a surprise given Murdoch’s advanced age and succession plans were already in place. 

An Australian media baron, Murdoch arrived stateside in 1985, purchasing a stake in 20th Century Fox and later buying the reminder from Marvin Davis. Murdoch launched Fox as a fourth network a year later, purchasing six Metromedia stations (including WFLD-TV here) as a core nucleus, forcing him to sell the Chicago Sun-Times because of the then-cross-ownership rules, prohibiting him from owning a TV station and newspaper in the same market, useless grandfathered in. 

Fox grew and was able to stun the industry by stealing NFC games from CBS in 1993 and twelve major network affiliates in key markets a year later. Murdoch later acquired the Chris-Craft/United station group in 2000, the core nucleus of UPN and bought Chicago’s UPN affiliate WPWR for $425 million in 2002. The studio was the most successful during this time, with hits The Simpsons, NYPD Blue, and The X-Files.  

But moreover, his legacy would be defined as creating the ultra-conversative Fox News Channel and the rise of Donald Trump, who would be elected as President in 2016. His network’s false reporting on the 2020 election undermined our election system and is still pushing those same lies, even after paying Dominion Voting Systems nearly $800 million to settle a lawsuit. Fox News changed the way news is reported, with a right-wing slant and spawning numerous copycats, including Sinclair’s local news stations and NewsMax. No clearer example of this comes with their emphasis on Chicago crime, which had a negative impact on the city’s reputation. 

There were also questions surrounding Murdoch’s U.S. citizenship, and on whether or not he should own Fox’s local stations given he was still an Australian citizen. Several civil rights and consumer groups fought to keep those licenses out of his hands in the 1990s. Murdoch often meddled in programming decisions, halting Fox drama Manchester Prep from getting on the air to reportedly forcing Twentieth Television to cancel Studs, a raunchy, syndicated late-night dating show. 

Murdoch sold much of 20th Century Fox to The Walt Disney Co. in 2019, retaining only Fox, the news and sports networks (except the RSNs), and My Network TV. 


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