21st Century Fox

Lachlan Murdoch to take over as CEO of ‘new’ Fox – but fate of brother James is unclear

There was no mention of current Fox CEO James Murdoch in the announcement, which said Rupert Murdoch would serve alongside Lachlan as co-chairman of the slimmed-down media firm

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 May, 2018, 9:47am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 May, 2018, 8:42pm

Lachlan Murdoch will take on the role of chairman and chief executive officer of the “new” Fox – the slimmed down media company that will be created following the approval of the Walt Disney Co’s acquisition of the majority of 21st Century Fox assets.

He takes over from brother James Murdoch, the current CEO, whose name was conspicuously missing from Fox’s announcement on Wednesday. James Murdoch has worked alongside his sibling for years at their father’s media empire.

Their father, Rupert Murdoch, will assume the title of co-chairman of the company, while John Nallen, currently 21st Century Fox’s chief financial officer, will take a bigger role as chief operating officer.

It remains unclear if James Murdoch will have any role in the new company, though a recent Wall Street Journal report speculated that he will branch off to pursue his own ventures.

In a statement, Rupert Murdoch said: “The new Fox will begin as the only media company solely focused on the domestic market; focused on what Americans love best – sports, news and entertainment, built and delivered for a US audience.”

The new Fox will consist of the Fox News Channel, which is the top-rated cable news channel in the country, as well as the Fox Business Network and the Fox Broadcasting Company. It will also focus heavily on sports, with such properties as Fox Sports and the sports cable networks FS1, FS2, Fox Deportes and Big Ten Network.

The Burbank-based Disney is expected to acquire the majority of 21st Century Fox assets, including the 20th Century Fox movie and TV studios, the cable channels FX and National Geographic, as well as other properties. The US$52.4-billion deal was announced late last year, but hasn’t formally closed.

However, Comcast is widely expected to launch its own rival bid for Fox assets this summer, which could jeopardise the Disney agreement. But Lachlan Murdoch said during a recent earnings call: “We are committed to our agreement with Disney.”

On Wednesday, Lachlan Murdoch, 46, said in a statement that “we have worked through the winter ‘standing up’ a reimagined independent Fox. The strengths of the new company, a leader in news, sports and entertainment, present truly unique opportunities.”

A spokesman for 21st Century Fox, which is based in New York, declined to comment about James Murdoch.

Fox News separately confirmed on Wednesday that it has reached a settlement with a group of former employees who had filed lawsuits that included allegations of racial and gender discrimination.

The spokesperson for the cable news channel declined to discuss the terms of the settlement.

However, a source with knowledge of the agreement said it was around 20 cases for close to US$10 million. The same source said the US$10 million includes contractual buyouts.