Billionaire Rupert Murdoch has announced he is stepping down as chairman of both Fox Corporation and News Corp after a career of almost 70 years, beginning in 1954.
Lachlan Murdoch will become the sole chair of News Corp
Rupert Murdoch will be appointed Chairman Emeritus of each company
Rupert began his media empire in 1954 from a single newspaper in Adelaide
“For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change,” Murdoch wrote in a memo to employees.
“But the time is right for me to take on different roles, knowing that we have truly talented teams.”
His son Lachlan Murdoch will become the sole chair of News Corp and continue as executive chair and chief executive of Fox, following the Annual General Meetings in mid-November.
Rupert Murdoch will be appointed Chairman Emeritus of each company.
In his memo Rupert Murdoch said that his father Keith firmly believed in freedom and that he was committed to the same cause, while he also took aim at sections of the media.
“Self-serving bureaucracies are seeking to silence those who would question their provenance and purpose, the memo read.
“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.
The 92-year-old Mr Murdoch proclaimed himself and his empire to be in good health, as he spoke of the changing media landscape.
“Our companies are in robust health, as am I,” he wrote.
“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.
“But the battle for the freedom of speech and, ultimately, the freedom of thought, has never been more intense.”
Mr Murdoch also said that while he was stepping down he would be keeping a watchful eye on the companies he has devoted his life to.
“In my new role, I can guarantee you that I will be involved every day in the contest of ideas,” he added
“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.”
Lachlan thanked his father in a statement.
“On behalf of the FOX and Newscorp 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.
“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.”
Building a media empire
Rupert Murdoch’s rise to media tycoon followed after his father Keith, who himself was the chief editor of the Herald newspaper in Melbourne.
But Rupert took things to a whole other level. While Keith expanded the Herald Group’s business holdings to include News Limited.
Rupert Murdoch would change the game as he built a global empire over 50 years, starting at home in Australia before moving to England and the United State.
Keith died in 1952 with Rupert stepping onto the company board and two years later, in 1954, he took control of News Limited.
As the company grew in the 1960s, Mr Murdoch bought the Sydney-based Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror newspapers before launching national publication The Australian in 1964.
In 1969 he began the company’s international expansion, purchasing News of the World and The Sun newspaper. News of The World closed in 2011 following accusations of the paper hacking the phones of politicians, celebrities and missing children.
In the 70s the expansion continued with the purchase of the Daily Telegraph in Sydney, the San Antonio Express and the San Antonio News in the United States and then launching The Star in the US.
However one of the most significant purchases was in 1985 when Mr Murdoch acquired Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and five television stations from Metromedia, it would become FOX Television Stations.
The Fox network debuted in 1986, premiering the Joan Rivers Show. Key shows later produced by the network include The Simpsons, COPS and The X-Files.
Fox News Channel, launched in 1996, has profoundly influenced television and the nation’s politics since its start, making Mr Murdoch a hero to some and pariah to others.
The 24-hour network converted the power and energy of political talk radio to television, within six years, it out-rated CNN and MSNBC.
In 1988 in the UK Mr Murdoch launched Sky Television and expanded to the nation’s first 24-hour news television channel, Sky News.
Other significant deals included the 2007 acquisition of Dow Jones, including The Wall Street Journal and investments in Collins and Harper & Row in the 80s which would later merge into HarperCollins in 1990.
Sports investment was key to building the media empire. An NFL broadcasting rights deal became the launchpad for Fox Sports in the US and in the UK, Sky Sports gained the rights to Premier League in 1992.