The 92-year-old will be appointed the honorary title of chairman emeritus of each company at each of their upcoming annual general meetings of shareholders, and continue to provide some input to both companies.
His son Lachlan Murdoch will become sole chairman of publishing company News Corp and continue in his current roles of executive chair and chief executive officer of broadcasting business Fox Corp.
Lachlan said: “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.
“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 ends chairmanship after almost 70 years
Murdoch previously proposed combining News Corp and Fox Corp, but abandoned that at the start of 2023 after deciding it would not be “optimal” for shareholders.
News Corp is a major publisher in the UK, US and Australia with publications including The Sun, The Times, New York Post, Wall Street Journal, The Australian and Sky News Australia.
Murdoch began running the Australian publisher News Ltd in 1954 and has been at the helm of his empire ever since. He entered the UK market in 1969 when he bought The Sun and the now-defunct News of the World, and he expanding into the US four years later.
Rupert Murdoch’s note to staff in full: ‘Our companies are in robust health, as am I’
In a memo to staff, he said: “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, knowing that we have truly talented teams and a passionate, principled leader in Lachlan who will become sole chairman of both companies.
“Neither excessive pride nor false humility are admirable qualities. But I am truly proud of what we have achieved collectively through the decades, and I owe much to my colleauges, whose contributions to our success have sometimes been unseen outside the company but are deeply appreciated by me.
“Whether the truck drivers distributing our papers, the cleaners who toil when we have left the office, the assistants who support us or the skilled operators behind the cameras or the computer code, we would be less successful and have less positive impact on society without your day-after-day dedication.
“Our companies are in robust health, as am I. Our opportunities far exceed our commercial challenges. We have every reason to be optimistic about the coming years – I certainly am, and plan to be here to participate in them. But the battle for the freedom of speech and, ultimately, the freedom of thought, has never been more intense.
“My father firmly believed in freedom, and Lachlan is absolutely committed to the cause. Self- serving bureaucracies are seeking to silence those who would question their provenance and purpose. Elites have open contempt for those who are not members of their rarefied class. Most of the media is in cahoots with those elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth.
“In my new role, I can guarantee you that I will be involved every day in the contest of ideas. Our companies are communities, and I will be an active member of our community. I will be watching our broadcasts with a critical eye, reading our newspapers and websites and books with much interest, and reaching out to you with thoughts, ideas, and advice. When I visit your countries and companies, you can expect to see me in the office late on a Friday afternoon.
“I look forward to seeing you wherever you work and whatever your responsibility. And I urge you to make the most of this great opportunity to improve the world we live in.”
Murdoch’s resignation coincides with the release of a new tell-all book by Trump White House chronicler Michael Wolff next week about the “end of the Murdoch empire” and internal battles at Fox News.
News Corp recorded its second highest year of profitability ever in the year to 30 June 2023 with profits of more than $1.4bn and revenues of $9.9bn, of which digital accounted for more than half for the first time. The best-performing part of the company was business publisher Dow Jones, which posted both its highest quarterly profit and highest annual profit.
In the UK, The Sun is “very profitable and growing” at an operating level, according to its publisher Dominic Carter. It recorded pre-tax losses of £127.2m in the year to July 2022, the most recent figures available, but made £15m after one off-costs like legal fees and restructuring. Meanwhile The Times doubled its profits to £73.2m.
Lachlan Murdoch and the succession
Lachlan Murdoch, 52, is Rupert Murdoch’s eldest son and has been chairman and CEO of Fox Corporation since 2019.
During his time in charge of Fox News it broadcast the content which saw it successfully sued for $787.5m by Dominion Voting Systems after broadcasting false conspiracy claims about the 2020 presidential election result being rigged.
Lachlan’s younger brother James, 50, was once considered a potential successor to his father but he resigned from the board of News Corp in 2020 “due to disagreements over certain editorial content published by the company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions”.
Murdoch has four other children: Prudence (from his first marriage), Elisabeth (along with James and Lachlan, from his second marriage) and Grace and Chloe (from his third marriage).
Elisabeth is also a successful media executive who sold her Shine production company to News Corp for $663m in 2011.
Interviewed by Press Gazette in 2005, Murdoch said his proudest achievement was smashing the power of the UK print unions in 1986/87 when he moved newspaper production from Fleet Street to Wapping.
He said: “We took them on and were the first to do it. And although we were abused by all sorts of people, including leading industrialists, who made portentous lectures on the BBC on how this was not the British way, in fact it was a turning point. An absolute turning point for Fleet Street and the whole of the newspaper industry. But also a turning point, although to a slightly lesser extent, for the whole of British industry.
“Although it wasn’t pleasant, I’m certainly very, very proud of it. And it’ll be part of my legacy.”
Email email@example.com to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog