News Corp. and Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch is stepping down from the role at both companies, the companies confirmed on Sept. 21. The move will be official in November.
In a note, the 92-year-old said he's in good health.
“Our companies are in robust health, as am I,” Mr. Murdoch said in a note to employees, according to multiple news reports. “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.”
Continuing, Mr. Murdoch said that for most of his life, he has "been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change," while adding that the "time is right for me to take on different roles, knowing that we have truly talented teams," according to reports.
Mr. Murdoch will transition to chairman emeritus as of the annual shareholders' meeting of each company in mid-November. One of his sons, Lachlan Murdoch, will become the sole chairman of News Corp. while continuing as executive chair and CEO of Fox Corp.
"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," he added. "We are grateful that he will serve as Chairman Emeritus and know he will continue to provide valued counsel to both companies."
An Australian, Mr. Murdoch got into the newspaper business in the 1950s and became a Hollywood executive before he bought 20th Century Fox in the mid-1980s. He then purchased multiple U.S. television stations and created Fox Broadcasting.
In 1996, he created Fox News as a competitor to CNN; Fox eventually rose to become the No. 1 U.S. cable news channel.
Fox News has been mired in a tumultuous period in recent months. The TV network reached a $787 million settlement over 2020 election claims in mid-April, and in the days that followed, the company suddenly announced that it parted ways with its most popular host, Tucker Carlson, for reasons that still aren't entirely clear.
Mr. Murdoch's departure also comes about one year ahead of the 2024 U.S. election. Notably, News Corp. owns The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and other publications, while Fox Corp. is the parent company of Fox News and Fox Business.
"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," the elder Murdoch also wrote in his note. "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."
He added: "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."
Earlier this year, the elder Murdoch reportedly scrapped a plan to merge News Corp. and Fox after criticism by several shareholders. In October 2022, he said that the two media groups were forming committees to "thoroughly evaluate a potential combination," it was reported.
Multiple shareholders, however, reportedly pushed back against the idea. Mr. Murdoch's family then released a statement saying it would carry out the merger if it was approved by a majority vote of certain stockholders.