Rupert Murdoch has announced that he is stepping down as chairman of the board of News Corp. and Fox Corp., to transition to chairman emeritus of both organizations as of mid November.
His son Lachlan Murdoch will become sole chairman of News Corp. and continue as executive chair and CEO of Fox Corp.
"For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change," the 92-year-old media baron wrote in a note to employees. "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..."
"Our companies are in robust health, as am I," he continued. "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... In my new role, I can guarantee you that I will be involved every day in the contest of ideas. 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, 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."
Murdoch's transition comes after a turbulent year for his companies. In January, he abandoned a plan to re-merge Fox and News Corp. In April, Fox agreed to pay $787.5 million to settle a defamation suit brought by Dominion Voting Systems for broadcasting false claims that Dominion helped rig the 2020 election. Murdoch subsequently ousted Fox News's top-rated host, Tucker Carlson, and the No. 1-rated cable news network suffered a drop in ratings while it searched for a successor.
Journalist Michael Wolff has just published an already-controversial book, "The Fall: The End of Fox News and the Murdoch Dynasty," which includes numerous revelations about Murdoch and the family business.
The industry has been speculating for years about when the founder of one of the world's largest media companies would step down, and who would succeed him -- although Lachlan has seemed the clear choice since he returned to the family business in 2014, after leaving nearly a decade earlier.
Rupert Murdoch launched his empire in Australia in the 1950s, acquired the U.K.'s News of the World and The Sun in 1969, and went on to acquire the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and HarperCollins in the U.S. He founded Fox News in 1996. He spun off the film business from the original News Corp in 2013 as 21st Century Fox, which was acquired in 2019 by the Walt Disney Company.