Rupert Murdoch to step down as chair of News Corp and Fox

Rupert Murdoch has announced he will step down from his leadership roles at News Corporation and Fox after a seven-decade career.

The Australian-born media tycoon, who began his career at an Adelaide newspaper, will hand over the reins to his eldest son, Lachlan Murdoch.

Lachlan will become sole chair of News Corp and continue as executive chair and chief executive officer of Fox Corporation.

Mr Murdoch, 92, will remain as chairman of both companies until November, leaving after the firms’ respective annual general meetings. He will then take on the role of chairman emeritus.

“For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change,” Mr Murdoch said in a memo to all staff.

“But the time is right for me to take on different roles, knowing that we have truly talented teams and a passionate, principled leader in Lachlan who will become sole chairman of both companies.”

Mr Murdoch said he was leaving both firms in “robust health”. He called his successor a “passionate, principled leader”.

Lachlan Murdoch praised his father’s “remarkable 70-year career,” and congratulated him on “the enduring legacy he leaves to the companies he founded”.

From Adelaide to NYC

Mr Murdoch, a Melburnian, got his start in the media when he took over the running of Adelaide tabloid newspaper The News following the death of his father Sir Keith Murdoch in 1952.

His successful turnaround of The News laid the foundation of the modern News Corporation and Fox.

Under Mr Murdoch, the business expanded across Australia, buying up newspapers in major capital cities. The Australian broadsheet was launched in 1964.

In the 1960s, News Corp entered the US and UK markets, becoming one of the globe’s most influential media organisations.

Along the way News picked up one of Hollywood’s biggest film studios, 20th Century Fox, before its sale in 2019.

Its Fox television network created global hits including The X Files and The Simpsons.

The company split in 2012, forming the current News Corporation and what would eventually be known as Fox Corp. Mr Murdoch remained as chairman of both separately listed companies.

In Australia, News Corp owns along with titles including The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun and Sky News as well as a majority share in Foxtel. Overseas, The Sun, The Times, Wall Street Journal and New York Post newspapers, Harper Collins books and Fox News all come under firms Mr Murdoch helms.

He has been awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia for services to the media and to newspaper publishing.

‘Truly proud’

In his memo to staff, Mr Murdoch said he was “truly proud of what we have achieved collectively through the decades”.

“I owe much to my colleagues, whose contributions to our success have sometimes been unseen outside the company but are deeply appreciated by me,” he said.

“Whether the truck drivers distributing our papers, the cleaners who toil when we have left the office, the assistants who support us or the skilled operators behind the cameras or the computer code, we would be less successful and have less positive impact on society without your day-after-day dedication.’

Mr Murdoch added that “our companies are in robust health, as am I”.

“Our opportunities far exceed our commercial challenges. We have every reason to be optimistic about the coming years – I certainly am, and plan to be here to participate in them.”

However, he sounded a note of caution about free speech.

“The battle for the freedom of speech and, ultimately, the freedom of thought, has never been more intense.

“My father firmly believed in freedom, and Lachlan is absolutely committed to the cause.

“Self-serving bureaucracies are seeking to silence those who would question their provenance and purpose.

“Elites have open contempt for those who are not members of their rarefied class. Most of the media is in cahoots with those elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth.”

‘Remarkable 70-year career’

Mr Murdoch said, in his “new role”, he would still be involved every day in “the contest of ideas”.

“Our companies are communities, and I will be an active member of our community,” he wrote. “I will be watching our broadcasts with a critical eye, reading our newspapers and websites and books with much interest, and reaching out to you with thoughts, ideas, and advice. When I visit your countries and companies, you can expect to see me in the office late on a Friday afternoon.”

Lachlan Murdoch congratulated his father on his “remarkable 70-year career”.

“We thank him for his vision, his pioneering spirit, his steadfast determination, and the enduring legacy he leaves to the companies he founded and countless people he has impacted,” he wrote in a statement.

“We are grateful that he will serve as chairman emeritus and know he will continue to provide valued counsel to both companies.”

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