Rupert Murdoch is stepping down as Fox and News Corp chairman, the companies announced Thursday.
His son, Lachlan, will take over the role at each company, with 92 year-old Rupert becoming chairman emeritus at both.
“For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change. But the time is right for me to take on different roles,” Rupert Murdoch wrote in a memo released to staff.
The announcement came just months after a plan to reunite his two major media assets, Fox and News Corp, was dropped.
“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,” said Lachlan Murdoch. “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.”
Rupert Murdoch inherited his father’s interests in the Adelaide newspaper The News in 1952, becoming editor, publisher and a member of the board of News Limited the following year. In 1954, Murdoch took control of News Limited a move that would lead to his first television interest in Channel 9, which launched five years later.
News Corporation was established in 1980 ahead of the purchase of The Times and The Sunday Times in 1981 and in 1983 Murdoch’s News International became the majority owner of Satellite Television, the first satellite-to-cable channel in Europe. Its network later helped the rollout of Eurosport, which Sky founded with the EBU.
In 1985, Murdoch took ownership of Twentieth Century Fox as well as a number of regional television stations in some of the top US markets.
The following year, the FOX Television Stations group was created, comprised of 25 stations across the United States that became the foundation for the launch of FOX Broadcasting Company in 1986 and helped his ambition to create a fourth US network.
FOX News Channel made its debut in October 1996; and other launches included FOX Sports Network, FX and the National Geographic Channels.
Murdoch launched Sky Television in the United Kingdom in 1989 with a four-channel package from the Astra satellite that was in direct competition for rights and viewers from the UK-licensed British Satellite Broadcasting. The two businesses merged in 1990.
In 1992, Sky acquired the rights to the newly launched Premier League, providing a major catalyst for the growth of the business.
Fox sold its remaining 39% stake in Sky Television to Comcast in 2018 for £11.6 billion. Sky had previously agreed to be taken over by Fox, its biggest shareholder, in December 2016. However, after Fox agreed to sell most of its entertainment assets to Disney, the regulators took an interest in the process allowing Comcast to make a move.
The separation of 21st Century Fox’s assets allowed Fox Corporation to launch as a standalone, publicly traded company. The newly defined company included FOX News Media, FOX Sports, FOX Entertainment, FOX Television Stations and Tubi Media Group.
News UK continues to own The Times and The Sunday Times and has moved into radio through Virgin Radio, TalkSport and Times Radio, and television in the form of Talk TV.