Billionaire media magnate Rupert Murdoch announced his momentous decision to step down as chairman of both Fox Corporation and News Corp, marking the end of a nearly seven-decade career that began in 1954 when he took control of a single newspaper in Adelaide, Australia.
Lachlan Murdoch: The Heir Apparent
The official statement from Fox revealed that Rupert Murdoch would assume the position of Chairman Emeritus for both Fox Corp, the parent company of Fox News, and News Corp, the media conglomerate encompassing various outlets.
This transition is slated to take effect in November, at which point Lachlan Murdoch will assume the role of chairman at News Corp while retaining his position as chief executive officer of Fox Corp.
Lachlan Murdoch, in a memo send to all Fox Staff, expressed gratitude for the promotion and ongoing support of his father during the leadership shift.
“We are grateful that [Rupert Murdoch] will serve as chairman emeritus and know he will continue to provide valued counsel,” he said.
An Illustrious Career
Rupert Murdoch’s career trajectory has been notable and controversial.
He began by expanding his father Keith’s media holdings, growing them to create a global media conglomerate. His career took him from Australia, to England, then the United States, where he acquired newspapers, launched national publications, and ventured into the international arena.
In 1985, Murdoch made a pivotal move by acquiring Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and five television stations from Metromedia. This acquisition laid the foundation for Fox Television Stations and the subsequent launch of the Fox network in 1986, introducing popular shows like The Simpsons, COPS, and The X-Files.
The year 1996 saw the establishment of Fox News Channel, which rapidly became a dominant force in television and U.S. politics, surpassing competitors such as CNN and MSNBC. In the UK, Murdoch launched Sky Television in 1988, which eventually led to the creation of Sky News, the nation’s first 24-hour news television channel.
Murdoch’s strategic expertise extended to acquisitions like the purchase of Dow Jones in 2007, including The Wall Street Journal, and investments in Collins and Harper & Row in the 1980s, culminating in the formation of HarperCollins in 1990.
Sports played a crucial role in his media empire, with NFL broadcasting rights deals boosting Fox Sports in the U.S., while Sky Sports secured the rights to the Premier League in the UK in 1992.
A Departure with a Watchful Eye
In his farewell memo to employees, Murdoch emphasised his unwavering commitment to the principles of freedom and the importance of questioning authority.
He criticised what he referred to as “self-serving bureaucracies” silencing dissenting voices and media outlets prioritising political narratives over truth.
While stepping down from his chairman roles, Murdoch assured that he would remain actively engaged in the “contest of ideas,” where he pledged to continue monitoring the companies he founded, reaffirming his dedication to the media community.
Continuity Under Lachlan Murdoch
Lachlan Murdoch, in a statement, expressed gratitude for his father’s incredible 70-year career.
He praised Rupert for his vision, pioneering spirit, determination, and the enduring legacy he leaves behind.
Despite this significant transition, major immediate changes are unlikely, as Lachlan Murdoch has effectively been running the operations as CEO for a considerable period.
The future of the Murdoch media empire, particularly in the event of Rupert Murdoch’s passing, will be determined by his four adult children, each holding equal influence within the business.