21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch says just because Fox News Channel had a tumultuous 2016, don’t expect any major changes in 2017.
“There’s a desire to break news, and focus on the news side of it,” Murdoch told Henry Blodget at Business Insider’s Ignition conference this morning. “I don’t think it’s about a pivot from a political bias one way or another, it’s about attracting the best talent,” said Murdoch, who added that he doesn’t involve himself too much in the news properties. For the moment, that’s left to his father, Rupert Murdoch who took over the chairmanship of FNC and FBN when Roger Ailes resigned following a sexual harassment scandal over the summer.
“I don’t get into editorial decisions at the place, because we’re passionate about maintaining editorial control,” Murdoch said. And that’s true not just at Fox News but also at Nat Geo, which 21CF fully acquired last year.
When Blodget asked, “Is Fox News fair and balanced?” Murdoch shot back, “I think it’s absolutely fair and balanced. We’re tough on both sides.”
“I think the important thing about Fox News is the difference be news and news gathering, and the opinion shows,” Murdoch said, adding that even in the top-rated prime time programs with, “Bill, Megyn, Sean and Tucker, there’s a high contrast between all of those shows.”
“The goal for anyone in the news business is to make sure that you’re presenting the news, breaking news, but also providing different perspectives, consistently putting the best product on the air and investing in that product and that’s something we’ll continue to do.”
Murdoch also talked about soft NFL TV ratings, Fox’s foray into 3D TV and virtual reality, and about the proposed AT&T merger with Time Warner, which owns CNN. “I don’t think it puts us at a particular disadvantage,” he said, adding, “It throws up a lot of questions about net neutrality and zero-data rate packages.”