Australian-American media mogul Rupert Murdoch is set to retire as chairman of global media conglomerates Fox Corp and News Corp.
The 92-year-old will be granted the honorary title of chairman emeritus of each of the companies while his son, Lachlan Murdoch, will take over as chairman of News Corp while remaining in his roles as executive chair and chief executive at Fox.
Lachlan Murdoch stated of his father's retirement: “We are grateful that he will serve as chairman emeritus and know he will continue to provide valued counsel to both companies.”
Murdoch purchased 20th Century Fox in 1985 and a year later founded Fox Broadcasting Company, which would go on to play a pivotal role in the development of the US sports landscape.
In 1994, Fox acquired the rights to broadcast the National Football Conference (NFC) of the National Football League (NFL) on a four-year contract for $1.58 billion. From this, Fox Sports was founded.
Fox Sports had the rights to broadcast both regular season and playoff NFC games, and in 1997 also broadcast the Super Bowl. The network has broadcasted the NFL ever since.
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While the NFL rights deal firmly established Fox Sports as a major player in US TV, Fox would use this to secure the rights to Major League Baseball, NASCAR, and college football’s Bowl Championship series.
In the years since, under Murdoch’s stewardship, Fox Sports has broadcast North American, South American and European soccer matches, the FIFA World Cup, college basketball, WWE, and more.
This has not been without controversy. In a case dating back to 2015, a Fox executive was alleged to have bribed FIFA officials in order to win broadcast rights to international soccer competitions.
Hernan Lopez, former chief executive of Fox’s international channels, was cleared of Bribery in September 2023, however, Murdoch, who was not accused of wrongdoing, was still involved in the trial when letters between him and then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter were exposed in court.
Rupert Murdoch was also chairman of UK TV giant Sky at the time when it acquired the rights to the newly formed Premier League. The elite league of British soccer’s partnership with Sky is still ongoing and positioned Sky as the dominant player in the UK sports media landscape.
Fox Sports also currently owns American football minor league the United States Football League. It has been reported this week that the USFL is in talks with minor league rival the XFL to merge.