Executives at 21st Century Fox held their first conference call with investors since last month’s departure of CEO Roger Ailes, and sent a clear message that changes to the highly rated cable news network will be limited to the executive level.
“Throughout this process, we have moved quickly and decisively to protect the business, protect its employees and protect the unique and important voice Fox News has,” Co-Executive Chairman Lachlan Murdoch — and son of Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch — said Wednesday.
“There’s no desire or need to shift the position that it has in the market,” Lachlan Murdoch said. “It’s a very successful business, and we are just undergoing a transition in leadership.”
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Rupert Murdoch has taken over as acting CEO in the wake of Ailes’ departure, and his son said that should send a clear signal that no major changes in how the network operates or brands its message should be anticipated.
“There is no one more dedicated or more able to transition Fox News to new leadership than its founder,” Lachlan Murdoch said. “As acting CEO, he joins an existing team that is extraordinarily strong and equally devoted to its success.”
In terms or ratings and ad revenue, there would seem to be no need to make drastic changes. Fox News is on pace to have its highest-rated year to date thanks to interest in this year’s presidential election. Those higher ratings helped spark a 13 percent increase in domestic ad revenues for the most recent quarter.
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Profits from the TV network helped offset higher-than-expected expenses in the company’s movie and sports programming divisions.
Still, investors are concerned about the lingering fallout from the Ailes departure. The longtime head of Fox News resigned in July after a sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, and an internal investigation revealed nearly a dozen other women at the company said they had been harassed by Ailes.
Now a report published in The New York Times suggests investigators looking at the Ailes’ case may eventually look at other executives or employees at the network to see if they had knowledge of Ailes’ behavior but did not report it.
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