Rupert Murdoch announced he was stepping down as chairman of Fox Corporation and News Corporation and handing both roles to his eldest son Lachlan, in a letter to employees Thursday.
The Australian-born media mogul attacks elites, who “openly despise those who are not members of their rarefied class”. Rupert Murdoch also said that “our businesses are healthy, just like me.”
However, a media expert said News week that Lachlan will have major challenges. Fox News is facing a second major lawsuit after falsely claiming the 2020 presidential election was rigged against Donald Trump, while cable news continues to face declining viewership.
A second academic said News week that News Corp had “responded to public fear, suspicion and grievance” and that these forces now threaten “the very institutional stability of the organizations that mobilized them”.
Talk to News weeka Fox News spokesperson said: “For nearly 22 years, FOX News Channel has been the most-watched cable news network in every category, with more independents now tuning in than CNN or MSNBC , attracting nearly 50% of the cable news audience. thanks to a high-performance team of journalists, analysts and opinion presenters. News week also contacted News Corporation for comment via email.
In April, Fox Corp agreed to pay Dominion Voting Systems $787.5 million to settle a $1.6 billion lawsuit. Fox News hosts and guests promoted discredited conspiracy theories suggesting the company, which makes voting machines, was involved in a plot to steal Joe Biden’s 2020 election.
However, Fox Corp still faces an even larger $2.7 billion lawsuit from Smartmatic, another electronic voting machine maker targeted by pro-Trump conspiracy theorists.
Andrew Selepak is an expert in media psychology and disinformation who teaches at the University of Florida. He said News week that this legal situation is “particularly worrying for FOX News” due to the decline in cable audiences and the lack of advertisers.
Selepak said, “Cable news continues to face declining viewership. Audiences are turning to social media for their news and information, instead of 24/7 news networks. target market sought by advertisers.
“For CNN and MSNBC, their biggest advertisers are pharmaceutical companies, and for FOX News, their biggest advertiser is My Pillow,” Selepak added. “But older Americans will only buy a limited number of pillows, sheets, towels and slippers, and My Pillow’s advertising revenue is likely to decline along with FOX News’ audience.
“This is particularly concerning for FOX News, which has already agreed to a nearly $800 million settlement with Dominion Voting and faces another potentially even larger settlement over a lawsuit with Smartmatic voting systems,” it said. Selepak.
“The legal settlements come as FOX News also dropped its sweep of Tucker Carlson, who began doing his shows on X, formerly Twitter, which was only possible because of a contractual loophole that allows you to broadcast a program on social networks.
Selepak also said that Fox News “basically endorsed Ron DeSantis for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination,” adding, “Trump is not one to forget the snub.”
Selepak added: “Essentially, it’s bad timing for Lachlan Murdoch to take over his father’s media empire, with FOX News considered by some to be one of the most important parts of that empire. But Lachlan’s reign may not last long. » Lachlan only takes over until Rupert’s death, aged 92, after which Rupert’s four eldest children will each have an equal stake in the media empire, and Rupert’s other children do not share the views more republican and pro-business of Lachlan’s father. “.
“We have entered a waiting period for Murdoch’s media empire. Even though Rupert is no longer chairman of Fox and News Corp., Lachlan is unlikely to make any significant changes to the media properties. But that will only last as long as Rupert does.
“Once he is gone, the public is expected to see big changes within News Corp and its various media outlets around the world, including potentially the company no longer being the go-to source for conservative media. And that’s assuming there’s a lot to do with an empire while falling ratings hurt many companies’ holdings,” Selepak added.
In recent years, the Fox News brand has launched a number of new media outlets, including Fox Nation in 2018, Fox News Books in 2020, and Fox Weather in 2021. As of August, Fox News carried 70 of 100 news shows most watched cable channels in 2021. in the United States, according to Nielsen Media Research.
FOX News Media continued to expand its multi-platform brand with additional revenue streams including subscription streaming service FOX Nation (launched in 2018), FAST Channel FOX Weather (launched in 2021), FOX News Books (launched in 2020 which produced 5 different bestsellers in New York and sold 1 million books), FOX News Audio, FOX News Digital and FOX News International.
Professor Stephen Duncombe, an expert in media and culture at New York University, said News week that the Murdoch empire could end up being destroyed by the very forces he believes he helped create. He said: “Lachlan Murdoch will face the same challenges as his father: controlling the public, often ugly, passions that Fox and News Corp have stoked for years.
“Like the Republican Party, News Corp responded to public fear, suspicion and grievance,” Duncombe added. “The goals may have been different, power and profit respectively, but the strategy was much the same.
“Today, in both cases, we see these destructive passions threaten the very institutional stability of the organizations that mobilized them.”