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‘Truly astonishing’: Rupert Murdoch retires from News Corp

‘Truly astonishing’: Rupert Murdoch retires from News Corp

Rupert Murdoch is stepping down as chairman of the boards of News Corp and Fox Corp, effective mid-November, ending an unprecedented seven-decade career as one of media’s truly iconic global figures.

His son, Lachlan Murdoch, will become the sole chair of News Corp and continue as executive chair and CEO of Fox Corporation, a position he has held since 2019.

Rupert Murdoch will become chairman emeritus of both companies.

“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.

“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. We are grateful that he will serve as chairman emeritus and know he will continue to provide valued counsel to both companies.”

Analysis: ‘Truly astonishing’

Reacting to the news, The Media Leader columnist and former Times media editor Raymond Snoddy called the move by Murdoch “truly astonishing.”

“Murdoch watchers would have automatically assumed that he would never have voluntarily depart and that it was more likely he would have been found dead in The Chair,” Snoddy told The Media Leader.

“But it is equally predictable that Lachlan, his long chosen successor, will have the benefit of his advice—probably on a daily basis of the chairman emeritus,” Snoddy continued.

Dominic Young, co-founder of micropayments platform Axate and a former director of strategy and and product development at News UK (then News International) described Rupert as “the great disruptor, often controversially.”

Reflecting on Rupert’s legacy as chairman, he commented, “When his businesses found themselves in challenging circumstances, or saw great opportunities, he was willing to be bold and ambitious and take huge risks. On several occasions, the whole company flirted with disaster but got through it, and created not just great success for News Corp but also a slipstream from which many competitors also benefited.

“The hugely controversial move of his UK newspapers to Wapping, and the prolonged protests which followed, paved the way for decades of renewed prosperity for the entire newspaper industry in the UK, freed from crippling costs and antiquated equipment and working practices. The launch of Sky was another perilous moment but created a hugely impressive and successful company and an opening up of the broadcasting market, expanding it from four channels to hundreds. He bought Dow Jones and turned it into one of the jewels in the business, against a backdrop of much scepticism.

“He has never run out of energy and determination to do things differently, shake things up, challenge the status quo. So, whatever you think about other aspects of his influence and politics, Murdoch has been huge figure in the success and diversity of the media sector for as long as I can remember and beyond.”

‘A need for leadership and risk-taking’

Young added that Rupert’s son Lachlan is taking over at a moment that also demands disruptive, bold and ambitious thinking after two decades in which news publishing has struggled to thrive online.

“The digital ecosystem and its power bases are shifting,” said Young. “The unquestioned dominance of the big platforms is being undermined by legislators, litigators, public perception and new technology like AI. It’s a moment when the internet can and will change direction, and there is a need for leadership, vision and risk-taking to help show the way. It’s an exciting time for him to be taking the reins and an opportunity to put his own stamp on the next phase for the business.”

Snoddy added: “It must be remembered that when the late Frank Giles was appointed editor emeritus of The Sunday Times, Murdoch was asked what the title meant. Murdoch is said to have replied, ‘E is for exit and meritus means he fucking deserved it.'”

Ian Merricks, Managing Partner , White Horse Capital , on 21 Sep 2023
“I've been an avid followers of Mr Murdoch for 25 years, since my own time in publishing and media ownership. He leaves a legacy!”

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