New York (CNN) Despite a turbulent and costly few weeks, Fox News is not changing course.
Fox Corp CEO Lachlan Murdoch said there will be no change in strategy at the company’s top-rated cable news network, despite the firing of its top-rated anchor. Tucker Carlson And huge $787.5 million settlement to Dominion Voting Systems which resulted in the company swinging to a loss in the period just completed.
“There is no change in our programming strategy at Fox News,” Murdoch said, responding to an analyst who asked about Carlson’s ouster during a call with investors on Tuesday to discuss financial results.
Murdoch called Fox News “clearly successful” and noted that Carlson’s firing was a change in strategy rather than a departure from it.
“As usual, we adjust our programming and our line-up and that’s what we continue to do,” Murdoch said.
His comments came after the company reported a net loss of $50 million for the quarter that just ended, compared to a profit of $290 million a year earlier.
The reason is the cost of $719 million including the cost of the Dominion Settlement, another legal settlements related to the news division and other legal costs, including attorneys’ fees, which were partially offset by the dividends of its affiliates and the change in the market value of some of its investments.
The earnings release doesn’t mention Dominion Voting Systems, though it does mention fees related to Fox News Media’s legal settlement costs. In the company’s call with investors, Murdoch indicated that a settlement with Dominion is in the best interest of the company and its shareholders, given Delaware court decisions that he said limited its defense. He said going to trial could have resulted in two to three years of appeals.
“We are proud of our Fox News team, the exceptional quality of their journalistic work and their stewardship of the Fox News brand,” he said. “So as we look forward, we are confident in the strength of the Fox brands and the strength of our balance sheet.”
He again defended the company’s post-election coverage of false anti-Dominion conspiracy theories, though internal communications between Fox anchors made public during the discovery process showed many of them. I couldn’t believe the claims being made.
“We’ve always acted as a news organization covering the newsworthy events of the day,” Murdoch told investors Tuesday. “Now we were and still are confident in the merits of our position that the First Amendment protects the reporting and allegations of a news organization by a sitting President of the United States. However, the Delaware court severely limited our defenses and trials by trial rulings.”
Fox did not have to apologize or admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement in the defamation lawsuit Dominion brought against it, though its statement said it acknowledged that “court rulings have found certain allegations about Dominion to be false.”
Fox still faces a lawsuit from another voting machine manufacturer, Smart Matic, which is seeking $2.7 billion in damages. Murdoch told investors that the case is “fundamentally different” from the Dominion case and that Fox will have greater defenses available to it than the Delaware court hearing the Dominion case. He predicted that the case would not go to trial until 2025.
Dominion’s settlement was reached on April 18, but was reported in Fox’s third fiscal quarter, which ended March 31. Barring legal costs and other special items reported on Tuesday, it was a good fiscal quarter for Fox.
It reported adjusted earnings of $494 million, or 94 cents a share, up from $459 million a year earlier. That was better than the 87 cents expected by analysts polled by Refinitiv. The company has benefited from the profits and revenue gains it has received from broadcasting this year power.
Revenue at the company rose 18% to $4.1 billion, slightly above analyst expectations. Most of that gain was from a 43% increase in advertising revenue, which was aided greatly by the $650 million in Super Bowl advertising. Fox did not broadcast the Super Bowl in 2022.
Fox had plenty of money to pay the settlement. It said it had $4.1 billion in cash and cash equivalents in the fund as of March 30, about three weeks before the settlement was reached. It also announced that it repurchased $1.8 billion of its shares in the nine months ending March 31, as part of a $7 billion buyback plan. To date, Fox has bought back $4.4 billion worth of shares as part of its plan.
Murdoch said Fox is in a better position than many other media companies to weather the delays and loss of revenue that can occur from an extended period. Writers Guild of America strike. Some programming, eg Late night showshas already been darkened by the strike that began last week, and production in other regions Offers have been discontinued.
But Murdoch said the fact that Fox gets more of its revenue and profits from sports and news, which is not affected by the strike, puts it in a better position.
“Our healthy balance of written and unscripted content on the network puts us in a tremendous position,” he said.
The hit from the settlement was known to investors before the report was released. But even with better than expected results, Fox (Fox) Shares only rose about 1% in open market trading after the report.
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