Majority shareholder and CEO of 21st Century Fox, Rupert Murdoch, 84, has announced that he is preparing to step down from his position at the media giant to hand the reigns to his sons James and Lachlan. According to sources close with the Murdoch family, an official announcement will come soon, but it is unclear if a reorganization of the company will begin before or after the end of 2015. Murdoch will continue to hold the position of executive chairman for Fox, his son James will take over as CEO, and his other son Lachlan will also come into the family business as an executive co-chairman of the company.
Murdoch launched the industry-leading Fox News outlet in 1996, leading them to an over $2 billion revenue yearly revenue stream over the last few years. He has been a big supporter of the Republican Party, turning Fox News into a conservative outlet for America.
The management reorganization also affects COO Chase Carey, who will step down to take a yet to be defined role as an adviser at Fox. Originally, reports stated Carey would use his right to have an early release for his contract to leave before the beginning of the next fiscal year. However, some sources state he will stay with the company through 2016. With Carey stepping down, this is the first time a position in the senior management at the company is left without someone from outside the Murdoch family. For years, the position of COO was run by Peter Chernin, who left in 2009. Chernin has been known in the industry for his supreme management of Fox’s network.
When the transfer of power at Fox happens, James, 42, will assume the day-to-day responsibilities of management at the company, but he will work together with his brother Lachlan, 43, and his father. According to sources, the Murdochs describe their new triumvirate management team as a “partnership.”
James initially stepped down from his position running BSkyB four years ago after a hacking scandal in Britain swallowed the company’s public image, giving him a segway into the family business at Fox. He has been a considered a managerial favorite among those at the company for his work as co-COO. Some executives at Fox said James has become a strong business leader, and has been the driving force behind the company’s mission to expand its digital market worldwide. A report from an unknown source explained that James will come into Fox with the primary role of running the company, while Lachan will work from a less defined strategic role.
Although the elder Murdoch currently holds 39.4 percent of the voting shares at Fox, not much will change of what he does everyday as the chairman of both News Corp and Fox. There is no word yet on if and when the elder Murdoch will fully retire in the future. Some speculate that once James and Lachan become familiar with running one of the largest news networks in the world, their father may consider stepping down permanently. Nevertheless, the managerial shift shows that Fox acknowledges that the next generation of Murdochs are ready to take control of one of the media industry’s top dogs.
By Alex Lemieux
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