Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch’s son, faces a challenging task in navigating the family’s cable TV and newspaper businesses through two unstable industries as a result of his father’s decision to step down as chairman of Fox Corp. and News Corp.
Murdoch’s media empire, which he created over a period of seven decades, has long been regarded as huge and has had a significant impact on politics, entertainment, and news. However, since selling the majority of its film and television operations to Walt Disney Co. for $71.3 billion in 2019, Fox has largely focused on news and sports, making it a relative minnow in a sea of whales. It continues to be very reliant on the failing cable TV and print industries.
Murdoch, 92, said on Thursday that he is stepping down from the boards of News Corp. and Fox, concluding a career that began with a modest Australian newspaper company. He becomes the emeritus chairman of each.
“He goes down with those leaders of the industry, like Sumner Redstone,” said Mario Gabelli, a longtime investor in media companies. “You’ve got to applaud the pluses, along with the obvious potholes that took place over the years.”
Only the transition’s timing caught everyone off guard. 52-year-old Lachlan continues to serve as chairman of News Corp. and as chief executive officer of Fox. Lachlan, who took over as CEO of Fox in 2018, was already viewed by his siblings as the victor of a family argument over who would run their father’s company.
Some wise commercial choices have been made by the younger Murdoch. The $440 million acquisition of Tubi by Fox in 2020 seems to be a smart move. According to Nielsen statistics, the ad-supported package currently accounts for the same percentage of all TV viewing as Warner Bros. Discovery Inc.’s Max service.