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Fox News CEO Says There’s ‘No Change’ After Tucker Carlson Exit - 9th May 2023


Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch said there will be no change in the firm’s strategy after the surprise exit of its top-rated host Tucker Carlson two weeks ago.

When asked during an earnings call on Tuesday about whether the network would shift its programming after Carslon’s departure, Murdoch responded: “There is no change to our programming strategy at Fox News.”

Murdoch said Fox News has “obviously a successful strategy” and suggested Carlson’s exit was merely a tweaking of its strategy and wouldn’t represent a significant change. He did not provide more details.

“As always, we are adjusting our programming and lineup and that is what we continue to do,” Murdoch said, according to multiple news reports.

Murdoch, the scion of billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, made no direct reference to Carlson, who until recently was the channel’s top-rated primetime host. Fox News’s primetime ratings have dropped since his exit, which has not been officially explained by the company amid speculative reports and anonymous rumors.

During the 8 p.m. ET hour, in which Carlson had excelled, the network has seen a sharp decline in viewership for its replacement show, “Fox News Tonight,” while hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have also seen declines, respectively, according to Nielsen ratings. But Murdoch appeared unconcerned with the development, saying that advertising is strong.

“We are pleased with the strength of the advertising demand, throughout our schedule, but particularly prime time,” he said.

The chief executive of Fox made his remarks in response to a question from an investor call with analysts in reference to the firm’s Tuesday earnings report for the quarter. The report (pdf) said that Fox reported a net loss of $50 million for the quarter, compared with a net income of $290 million reported in the prior year’s quarter.

Revenue at Fox Corporation, according to the earnings report, rose 18 percent to $4.1 billion, which was higher than what was forecast. Most of the gain was due to a 43 percent surge in ad revenue, in part, bolstered by Fox hosting the Super Bowl in February.

“Our fiscal third quarter once again demonstrated the effectiveness of FOX’s strategy to leverage the power of compelling live events to deliver for our viewers, advertisers, and distributors at scale. During the quarter, the largest audience in U.S. television history gathered to watch FOX Sports’ broadcast of Super Bowl LVII, underpinning our delivery of double-digit revenue growth, and providing a promotional gateway to FOX’s entertainment and news brands,” Murdoch said in a statement.

Murdoch also told investors that the network is better-equipped than other mainstream news channels to deal with the prolonged strike by the Writers Guild of America, which walked out of negotiations with major Hollywood studios last week. A number of late-night shows have been shuttered in the meantime, while other programming could also suffer.

But Murdoch said the fact that Fox has more revenue coming from news and sports, areas that aren’t impacted by the union’s strike. “Our healthy balance of scripted and unscripted content on the network puts us in a tremendous position,” he said, according to news reports.

Shares of Fox Corporation were down about 1 percent by midday trading.

Ratings Down

Viewing figures for the evening of May 5, “Fox News Tonight” attracted only 90,000 people in the 25–54 demographic coveted by advertisers, while MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” attracted 145,000. In comparison, Carlson’s final show on April 21 obtained more than 270,000 in the 25–54 demographic and drew about 2.6 million overall viewers.

Across March 2023, Carlson averaged well over 3 million viewers per show, in part buoyed by his coverage of newly released footage of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach.

Morning host Brian Kilmeade was the first to take over Carlson’s timeslot, followed by Lawrence Jones. Now Kayleigh McEnany, a former Trump White House press secretary, is hosting the show this week.

A Fox News spokesperson told Newsweek on Tuesday that the cable news channel “continues as the highest-rated cable news network in primetime and total day. The network also continues to be the most-watched cable news channel at 8 p.m. ET with Fox News Tonight.”

For Carlson’s part, he has not issued a public comment about why left. Instead, he released a video about two weeks ago denigrating the U.S. media landscape for focusing on pointless topics of debate and later made a public appearance at an Alabama fundraising event.

But the former top-rated host may be considering taking action soon.

A lawyer retained by Carlson released a statement to Axios over the weekend that said, “The idea that anyone is going to silence Tucker and prevent him from speaking to his audience is beyond preposterous.” It came in the midst of anonymous claims that Carlson would be “going to war” against Fox News after his departure.

Fox News also sent a “cease and desist” order to left-wing organization Media Matters for America for publishing videos featuring Carlson behind the scenes. It’s not clear how Media Matters obtained those clips, which it dubbed “FOXLEAKS.”

In its letter, shared with The Epoch Times, Fox said that those videos of Carlson are the company’s intellectual property and suggested it would take legal action soon.

(The Epoch Times)




FOX, News shareholders revolt but Rupert Murdoch gives them short shrift - 17th November 2017

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The bottom line is Rupert Murdoch, with wife Jerry Hall, survived the latest battle to end his control of 21st Century Fox despite a massive revolt by investors at the AGM. Photo: AP



by Colin Kruger, CBD

When you've got something unpleasant to do, sometimes it is best to just get it over and done with.

That is obviously the strategy Rupert Murdoch took on Wednesday in Los Angeles, where he went back-to-back shareholder wallopings at the 21st Century Fox and News Corp annual meetings.

And given his wearying 86 years on this earth, is it any wonder he chose to race through both meetings in as little as 45 minutes if Stephen Mayne's tweets are anything to go by.

Illustration: John Shakespeare

The Fox AGM only lasted 26 minutes because only 1 shareholder question was asked by Aussie John Lindsay. Listen here

— Stephen Mayne (@MayneReport) November 15, 2017
The bottom line is Murdoch survived the latest battle to end his control of 21st Century Fox despite a massive revolt by investors at the AGM.

Nearly 78 per cent of the voting stock controlled by Murdoch's fellow investors was voted in favour of unwinding the dual-class share structure that allows the billionaire to control 40 per cent of the votes despite owning just 12 per cent of the company.

The final vote was 313.7 million shares voted in favour of the resolution and 412.5 million against – including the 317 million voting shares held by the Murdoch family.

The vote was always going to be uncomfortably close for the Murdochs, coming just weeks after it became clear Murdoch no longer had Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal in his corner.

The recent arrest of the prince – a long-time ally of the Murdoch family – led to scrutiny of his voting stake in Fox, which made Murdoch's control impregnable.

It became clear that the prince had sold his stake, possibly years ago, but the opaque corporate rules governing Fox means the company has not had to report this significant change.

Investors like Nathan Cummings Foundation have argued that a more conventional share structure is needed to hold the Murdoch-controlled group accountable to investors.

"We have long argued that scandals like these [phone hacking and sexual harassment] are in large part a result of a capital structure that fosters a lack of accountability," the foundation said prior to the meeting.

But Rupert and sons Lachlan and James Murdoch know the larger battle is still ahead of them – convincing the market that recently-revealed talks to sell a large part of Fox and its Sky stake to Disney is not a signal that it does not have the scale to compete against a new generation of rivals like Google, Facebook and Netflix.

"Universal connectivity and access to nearly every piece of content ever made represents remarkable opportunity," Rupert told investors. "And it's still very early in this evolution."

He said "content is king all over again" and Fox was "uniquely positioned".

There was also a significant protest vote at the meeting against the re-election of independent directors including high-profile Australian businessmen like Rod Eddington and former Ford boss and BHP chairman Jac Nasser.

The largest protest vote was reserved for the sole female director of the company, which has been plagued by sex scandals. More than 27 per cent of voting shares rejected the re-election of Delphine Arnault to the board. She did not show up to the meeting.

It was not a good look for a company with its track record.

News time

News Corp's 3pm AGM made Fox's 26-minute meeting look like a drawn-out affair. It was done and dusted in just 19 minutes.

But the aftermath of the vote is one that will concern Rupert long into the new year.

The biggest protest votes were reserved for his two heirs, Lachlan and James. The latter would barely have been re-elected to the News board if it were not for the family's 79 million voting shares in his back pocket.

Rumble Kings

The brawlers at Aussie miner Kingsgate Consolidated have found themselves in another fight.

While executive chairman Ross Smyth-Kirk and crew have been focused on their legal action to redress the closure of its lucrative Thai goldmine, one of its investors, UK-listed Metal Tiger, has announced plans to clean out most of Kingsgate's board – three out of four directors and install its own team of five.

Controlling the board of a company in which you hold on a 6.7 per cent stake sounds like a great return for Metal Tiger investors.

Metal Tiger boss Michael McNeilly, who is one of the proposed board members, commented: "Metal Tiger believes that KCN is in urgent need of board renewal. The incumbent board has overseen a massive destruction of shareholder value and failed to articulate a clear strategy going forward."

Another of Metal Tiger's proposed "independent directors" will be more familiar to Aussie investors –Richard (Dick) F E Warburton AO LVO, bon vivant, climate sceptic and a veteran director whose career includes stepping down as David Jones chairman after rows with investors over years of failed expansion strategies.

"Neither Metal Tiger nor any of its nominees to the board have articulated any alternative plans for the company," Smyth-Kirk told investors in a release to the ASX.

Good man

A rather relieved Ian Ferrier was enjoying the tea and bikkies after Goodman Group's AGM on Thursday.

Antsy shareholders had two chances to dislodge their unpopular chairman and certainly made the most of their opportunities.

Nearly 22 per cent of shares were voted against his re-election to the board, and then more than 24 per cent voted against the remuneration report – which means the not-so Goodman almost received a second strike that could have triggered a spill of its entire board.

It would not have bothered boardroom veterans John Harkness and Anne Keating, who were retiring after the meeting anyway, but Ferrier wants to go out on his own terms in three years after overseeing an orderly transition to his replacement – as he explained at the meeting.

He won the grudging support of the Australian Shareholders' Association, despite its quibbles about the long tenures of its directors, and what it considers to be a non-independent board.

"Yes, I agree we are an unusual company, as we outperform the ASX, unlike other companies," Ferrier quipped.

(The Sydney Morning Herald)