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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

New York (AFP) – Rupert Murdoch will step down as chief executive of his media-entertainment conglomerate 21st Century Fox and hand the job to his son James, his news channel said Thursday.

Fox News confirmed the succession plan shortly after other media reports, starting with CNBC television.

The 84-year-old tycoon will remain executive chairman of the group with his other son Lachlan as co-chairman in the move.

No timetable was given, but CNBC said the change would take place later this year or in early 2016.

The New York Times said the board would take up the transition plan next week.

The company did not immediately respond to an AFP query on the report.

James Murdoch, 42, will take over day to day management at Fox, working “in tandem with his 43-year-old brother Lachlan and his father,” according to CNBC.

Fox News, the cable channel which competes with CNN and MSNBC, will continue to be run by its president Roger Ailes, “reporting directly to Rupert Murdoch,” according to the network.

The company — which includes the Fox Hollywood studios and a range of television entities — was created two years ago when Murdoch broke off the struggling publishing operations of his News Corp. empire from the faster-growing media and entertainment operations.

Rupert Murdoch and his family remained in control of both companies after the split. The Australian-born Murdoch is executive chairman at News Corp. with his son Lachlan listed as co-chairman.

At Fox, Murdoch holds the title of chairman and chief executive, with Chase Carey president and chief operating officer and James Murdoch the co-chief operating officer.

According to CNBC, Carey was expected to step down from his role while remaining an adviser to the company.

Rupert Murdoch has spent a lifetime building his News Corp empire from a single Australian newspaper he inherited.

He moved to London where his purchase of the weekly News of the World in 1969 gave him a high-profile foothold in the British market. He went on to buy The Sun, a daily which he turned into a popular and big-selling tabloid.

The success of his London-based newspapers helped finance his 1981 purchase of The Times and Sunday Times, both prestigious broadsheets, in an acquisition that met with intense opposition from parts of Britain’s establishment.

He relocated to the United States where more bold acquisitions followed and where he became a naturalized US citizen in 1985.

The empire came under pressure in recent years from the slump in newspaper revenues, and a scandal in Britain which led to the shutdown of News of the World after the revelation the tabloid hacked into the phones of a murdered teenager and the families of dead soldiers.

The split in 2013 was aimed at “unlocking value” in the print and entertainment operations.

In the latest quarter, Fox reported net income of $975 million on revenues of $6.5 billion. The company includes the Fox studios in Hollywood and a global array of cable and broadcasting operations, including the Fox television entities, National Geographic Channels and local television stations, along with a stake in the Sky satellite television service.

News Corp — which also owns Wall Street Journal parent Dow Jones — for the same period reported a profit of $23 million on $2 billion in revenues.

Fox shares fell 0.76 percent to $32.60 on the news.

File Photo: Rupert Murdoch, pictured on July 17, 2014, is preparing to step down as chief executive of the media-entertainment conglomerate 21st Century Fox and hand the job to his son James, CNBC television reports. (AFP/File / Jason Reed)

This post has been updated.

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