Close to a year ago, James and Lachlan Murdoch took over the reins of 21st Century Fox from their father, Rupert Murdoch. Since then, have been remaking the company at breakneck speed. However, they have left Fox News alone as it contributes to nearly 20% of the group’s annual earnings. Apart from the $1 billion profits, Fox News also provides a big bargaining chip for the group against cable and satellite operators.
But with the recent sexual harassment litigation against Fox News head, Roger Ailes, the Murdoch brothers would be left with little option but to intervene. Although the group has asserted its confidence on Mr Ailes, it has simultaneously launched an internal investigation into the allegations with the help of a leading law firm. In the meantime, it is understood that Mr Ailes, 76, who started Fox News from scratch 20 years ago, is negotiating terms for his departure from the group. Coming in the Presidential election year, this represents the biggest management challenge faced by the brothers yet.
In the last one year the brothers have restructures 21st Century Fox’s international channel business, which has led to the departure of nearly 400 employees including the division’s chief executive. In September last year, they inked a $725 million deal to buy control of the National Geographic roster of cable channels and print publications. They have also aggressively ventured into piping television directly to consumers in India with Hotstar, a streaming service that now has 72 million users.