Fox News CEO Says There’s ‘No Change’ After Tucker Carlson Exit

Fox News CEO Says There’s ‘No Change’ After Tucker Carlson Exit
Lachlan Murdoch, chief executive officer of Fox Corporation and co-chairman of News Corp, attends the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, on July 11, 2019. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch said there will be no change in the firm’s strategy after the surprise exit of its top-rated host Tucker Carlson two weeks ago.

When asked during an earnings call on Tuesday about whether the network would shift its programming after Carslon’s departure, Murdoch responded: “There is no change to our programming strategy at Fox News.”

Murdoch said Fox News has “obviously a successful strategy” and suggested Carlson’s exit was merely a tweaking of its strategy and wouldn’t represent a significant change. He did not provide more details.

“As always, we are adjusting our programming and lineup and that is what we continue to do,” Murdoch said, according to multiple news reports.

Murdoch, the scion of billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, made no direct reference to Carlson, who until recently was the channel’s top-rated primetime host. Fox News’s primetime ratings have dropped since his exit, which has not been officially explained by the company amid speculative reports and anonymous rumors.

During the 8 p.m. ET hour, in which Carlson had excelled, the network has seen a sharp decline in viewership for its replacement show, “Fox News Tonight,” while hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have also seen declines, respectively, according to Nielsen ratings. But Murdoch appeared unconcerned with the development, saying that advertising is strong.

“We are pleased with the strength of the advertising demand, throughout our schedule, but particularly prime time,” he said.

Tucker Carlson speaks during 2022 FOX Nation Patriot Awards at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood in Hollywood, Fla., on Nov. 17, 2022. (Jason Koerner/Getty Images)

The chief executive of Fox made his remarks in response to a question from an investor call with analysts in reference to the firm’s Tuesday earnings report for the quarter. The report (pdf) said that Fox reported a net loss of $50 million for the quarter, compared with a net income of $290 million reported in the prior year’s quarter.

Revenue at Fox Corporation, according to the earnings report, rose 18 percent to $4.1 billion, which was higher than what was forecast. Most of the gain was due to a 43 percent surge in ad revenue, in part, bolstered by Fox hosting the Super Bowl in February.

“Our fiscal third quarter once again demonstrated the effectiveness of FOX’s strategy to leverage the power of compelling live events to deliver for our viewers, advertisers, and distributors at scale. During the quarter, the largest audience in U.S. television history gathered to watch FOX Sports’ broadcast of Super Bowl LVII, underpinning our delivery of double-digit revenue growth, and providing a promotional gateway to FOX’s entertainment and news brands,” Murdoch said in a statement.

Murdoch also told investors that the network is better-equipped than other mainstream news channels to deal with the prolonged strike by the Writers Guild of America, which walked out of negotiations with major Hollywood studios last week. A number of late-night shows have been shuttered in the meantime, while other programming could also suffer.

But Murdoch said the fact that Fox has more revenue coming from news and sports, areas that aren’t impacted by the union’s strike. “Our healthy balance of scripted and unscripted content on the network puts us in a tremendous position,” he said, according to news reports.

Shares of Fox Corporation were down about 1 percent by midday trading.

Ratings Down

Viewing figures for the evening of May 5, “Fox News Tonight” attracted only 90,000 people in the 25–54 demographic coveted by advertisers, while MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” attracted 145,000. In comparison, Carlson’s final show on April 21 obtained more than 270,000 in the 25–54 demographic and drew about 2.6 million overall viewers.

Across March 2023, Carlson averaged well over 3 million viewers per show, in part buoyed by his coverage of newly released footage of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach.

Morning host Brian Kilmeade was the first to take over Carlson’s timeslot, followed by Lawrence Jones. Now Kayleigh McEnany, a former Trump White House press secretary, is hosting the show this week.

A Fox News spokesperson told Newsweek on Tuesday that the cable news channel “continues as the highest-rated cable news network in primetime and total day. The network also continues to be the most-watched cable news channel at 8 p.m. ET with Fox News Tonight.”

For Carlson’s part, he has not issued a public comment about why left. Instead, he released a video about two weeks ago denigrating the U.S. media landscape for focusing on pointless topics of debate and later made a public appearance at an Alabama fundraising event.

But the former top-rated host may be considering taking action soon.

A lawyer retained by Carlson released a statement to Axios over the weekend that said, “The idea that anyone is going to silence Tucker and prevent him from speaking to his audience is beyond preposterous.” It came in the midst of anonymous claims that Carlson would be “going to war” against Fox News after his departure.

Fox News also sent a “cease and desist” order to left-wing organization Media Matters for America for publishing videos featuring Carlson behind the scenes. It’s not clear how Media Matters obtained those clips, which it dubbed “FOXLEAKS.”

In its letter, shared with The Epoch Times, Fox said that those videos of Carlson are the company’s intellectual property and suggested it would take legal action soon.

From The Epoch Times