Rupert Murdoch is stepping down as the chairman of Fox Corp and News Corp, ending a more than seven-decade career during which he created a media empire spanning from Australia to the United States.
Murdoch’s son Lachlan will become the sole chairman of News Corp and continue as chairman and CEO of Fox, the companies said in a statement on Thursday.
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“On behalf of the FOX and News Corp boards of directors, leadership teams, and all the shareholders who have benefited from his hard work, I congratulate my father on his remarkable 70-year career,” Lachlan Murdoch said.
Murdoch, who has near-controlling stakes in both companies, will be appointed chairman emeritus when his resignation comes into force at a November shareholders’ general meeting.
Thursday’s announcement comes just months after Murdoch, 92, scrapped a plan that would have reunited his media empire by merging Fox and News Corp.
It also comes after Fox reached a $787.5m settlement with Dominion Voting Systems in April over allegations that the network deliberately pushed false claims about the Colorado-based company and its role in the 2020 US presidential election.
Fox has denied any wrongdoing in the case.
Murdoch has drawn criticism over the years from some human rights advocates in the US and other countries who say the right-wing media empire he established has fuelled political polarisation.
Besides Fox News, Murdoch started the Fox broadcast network, the first to successfully challenge the Big Three networks in the US – ABC, CBS and NBC. He also is owner of The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.
Murdoch is a force in the conservative world, where Fox News Channel has profoundly influenced television and US politics since its start in 1996.
Murdoch vowed in a letter to employees that he would remain engaged at Fox. “In my new role, I can guarantee you that I will be involved every day in the contest of ideas,” he wrote.
“Our companies are communities, and I will be an active member of our community. I will be watching our broadcasts with a critical eye, reading our newspapers and websites and books with much interest.”
British commentator and TV host Piers Morgan heaped praise on Murdoch in a social media post on Thursday, calling him “a bold, brilliant, visionary leader”.
“It’s been a privilege to work for him on and off for the past 30 years, and an ongoing masterclass in journalism and business. Thanks Boss!” Morgan wrote on X, the website formerly known as Twitter.
Rupert Murdoch has been a bold, brilliant, visionary leader whose audacity & tenacity built a magnificently successful global media empire. It’s been a privilege to work for him on and off for the past 30 years, and an ongoing masterclass in journalism & business. Thanks Boss! 👏 pic.twitter.com/pBtuv8KogL
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) September 21, 2023
US media commentator Brian Stelter told Al Jazeera that Murdoch’s ultimate legacy in the country will be Fox News, “which for better and for worse has … changed American politics, created many more divisions and of course, helped [lead] to the rise of Donald Trump”.
“Outside the US, he has also fostered more divisions and caused more polarisation in places like the United Kingdom. So that’s a part of his legacy, for sure, in addition to his media mastery and his mergers and acquisitions,” Stelter said.