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Rupert Murdoch steps down as Fox and News Corp chairman: What you need to know

Australian billionaire Rupert Murdoch has finally handed over control of his empire, ending years of speculation around who would eventually replace him.

Billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch has announced that he is stepping down as chairman of Fox and News Corporation.

Murdoch, 92, has handed the keys to his global empire to his eldest son Lachlan, 52, who will become the sole chair of both businesses. The announcement came on Thursday and will take effect mid-November.

What you need to know

  • Melbourne-born Rupert Murdoch, 92, has a net worth of roughly $8.3 billion, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

  • Murdoch's media empire began when he inherited a South Australian newspaper at just 22 years old, after the death of his father in 1952.

  • He went on to buy more Australian newspapers, and founded The Australian in 1964.

  • He then set his sights further afield, purchasing British newspapers The News of the World, The Sun and The Times before breaking into the US market.

  • He isn’t stepping away entirely - he’ll become News Corp and Fox’s Chairman Emeritus, a title former chairmen are given when they remain associated with the business.

  • The popular HBO drama Succession is based on the business and family drama of real-world media titans like Rupert Murdoch.

Murdoch's media empire spans the globe with holdings in Australia, the US and UK. Source: Yahoo News Australia
Murdoch's media empire spans the globe with holdings in Australia, the US and UK. Source: Yahoo News Australia

🗣️ What they said

In a note to staff, Rupert Murdoch said: “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”

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told ABC News: "[Murdoch has] built a vast global media empire, and no doubt the business pages will give him credit for that, but he has done enormous damage to the democratic world."

Treasurer Jim Chalmers told reporters: “This is the end of an era at News.”

In 2020, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said: "The truth is Murdoch has become a cancer, an arrogant cancer on our democracy.”

While married to Murdoch, Anna Torv praised the mogul by saying: “He doesn't suffer fools gladly. But he is a very good and moral human being.”

British politician Jeremy Corbyn posted to social network X, saying: “Rupert Murdoch's media empire has poisoned global democracy and spread disinformation on a mass scale.”

Lachlan Murdoch, left, and Rupert Murdoch attend the TIME 100 Gala in New York on April 21, 2015.
Lachlan Murdoch, left, will take control of both News Corp and Fox Corp when his father Rupert stands down as chairman in November. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

🤔 Why should I care?

Rupert Murdoch is arguably one of the most prominent figures in the history of the press. His influence spans media and politics. He is credited for creating what we now know as the modern tabloid - newspapers that focus on things like controversy, crime, and scandal.

However, Murdoch and his family have themselves been involved in scandalous stories over the years. In 2011, employees of his now-defunct British tabloid News of the World were accused of hacking the phones of politicians, celebrities, members of the royal family and even the phones of murder victims and their families.

More recently, Murdoch’s Fox News agreed to pay a $787.5 million settlement to Dominion Voting Systems. The news channel falsely claimed the polling machines were used to rig the election in favour of Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. The settlement is one of the largest-ever libel payouts in US history and led to the sacking of political commentator Tucker Carlson. His Fox show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, was where many of the false claims were aired.

Rupert Murdoch's relationships have also dominated the headlines, with four marriages and four divorces under his belt. He shares six children with three of his wives.

Media magnate Rupert Murdoch says he will step down as the leader of Fox News' parent company and his News Corp. media holdings, with son Lachlan set to take his place. (AP Graphic)
Media magnate Rupert Murdoch says he will step down as the leader of Fox News' parent company and his News Corp media holdings, with son Lachlan set to take his place. (AP Graphic) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

💬 Conversation starter

In July 2011, Murdoch was publicly pied in the face. While giving his testimony at a British parliamentary committee into phone hacking by the News of the World, comedian and activist Jonathan May-Bowles – known as Jonnie Marbles – lunged at Murdoch with a plate full of shaving cream. His then-wife Wendi Deng leapt up to push the protester away and then threw the plate at the activist. The shocking moment was caught on live television.

Marbles tweeted shortly after the attack: “It is a far better thing that I do now than I have ever done before #splat”. He was later jailed for six weeks for assaulting the media tycoon.

This combination picture of still images shows a man trying to attack Rupert Murdoch during a parliamentary committee hearing on phone hacking.
During a parliamentary committee hearing on phone hacking in London in 2011 a man threw a pie at Rupert Murdoch. (Reuters TV / reuters)

❗ It’s hard to believe, but…

Rupert Murdoch bought social media site Myspace at the height of its success in 2005 for a whopping $580m. And while over the next couple of years, its value boomed to $12b, the social network was quickly crushed by Facebook which launched shortly after.

Taking a massive loss, News Corp sold Myspace for $35m in 2011. Murdoch sold it to Justin Timberlake’s advertising firm Specific Media. Ironically, a year earlier, singer turned actor Timberlake starred as Facebook investor Sean Parker in the film The Social Network.

Elsewhere in popular culture, many have drawn similarities between the fictional and unruly billionaire Roy family in the hit HBO drama Succession and the Murdochs. One journalist even asked Mr Murdoch if he planned to watch the show, to which he replied, “‘Never watched it’.

⏭️ So what next?

Murdoch stepping down comes at a time of huge transition for his companies.

In 2019, Fox sold its entertainment branch, including 20th Century Fox, to Disney for a whopping $71 billion. This means the business is doubling down on its live TV news and sport as the cable industry faces decline.

News Corp has also expanded to include more business data services as its business faces a threat from the rise of artificial intelligence.

Many are wondering where son Lachlan will take the media empire.

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