Acknowledging a recent “lack of communication from the top,” Fox News Channel co-presidents Bill Shine and Jack Abernethy addressed FNC employees gathered this morning for the channel’s 20th anniversary and the unveiling of a new $30 million studio in Manhattan. The set will make its on-air debut on Election Day, November 8.
“Today is about looking back at 20 news-packed years and then looking ahead to doing even more journalism,” Shine said. “We understand for the last few years there has been a lack of communication from the top; Jack and I are set to fix that.”
The anniversary celebration comes just three months after the abrupt departure of chairman Roger Ailes amidst charges of sexual harassment, rampant improprieties and massive settlements.
At the 10 AM employee gathering, Shine said: “Let me start by saying that having Rupert (Murdoch), the founder of Fox News and our executive chairman, with us and running the company has been a wonderful experience. He loves this company and only wants it to continue to thrive. He could not be here today; he’s in L.A. and, as you will soon see in an email to the staff, congratulates you all.”
An FNC spokesperson says Shine and Abernethy were flanked by the management team, with staffers from all domestic and international bureaus dialing in to hear the speeches.
In comments released by FNC, Shine said, ““We’re a team, and it’s important to us today that we celebrate as a team.”
Said Abernethy: “Our records show that about a little over 190 people have been here from the very beginning, continuously. Most of you, like me, have been here for only a portion of that time. As I get reacquainted with folks, I find tremendous amount of pride in what we do here – I can assure you that Bill and I are going to do our very best to innovate. An example is this beautiful studio here.”
Abernethy said the company is “working on a number of different projects and one of the key things is the workspace, which hasn’t really much changed in 20 years. We have plans in place to upgrade, particularly the newsroom. We also have a plan in place to upgrade Foxnews.com and our other digital ventures.”
In an email to employees, Murdoch avoided the channel’s recent upheavals, striking a congratulatory tone. Here’s his email in full:
20 years ago, we created and launched a news network determined to challenge the establishment and deliver fair and balanced news. Today, I look back at what we have accomplished and I couldn’t be more proud. We have changed the face of television news and the industry at large.
Not only has FOX News been the number one rated cable news channel on television for nearly 15 years, but we routinely place atop basic cable, beating out stalwarts such as ESPN, USA, TBS and AMC. This is a feat that was unheard of just 20 years ago, yet has become commonplace today, thanks to the hard work, determination and creative thinking of everyone here.
For the past two decades, we’ve been charting new territory with both our journalism and opinion programming. FOX News innovations like the news crawl have now become industry standards and our recent initiatives like the FOX News Deck play a pivotal role in our ability to stay ahead of the competition during breaking news. We’ve also cultivated the best news and analysis teams in the business — a roster largely composed of both homegrown star journalists and opinion hosts, all of whom are immensely talented.
As we enter our third decade, FOX News is still continuing to achieve new milestones. This year we are on track to have our highest rated year ever, our own Chris Wallace will be the first FOX News anchor to moderate a presidential debate, and we are currently the most engaged news brand on social media.
The majority of our success, however, comes from our commitment to delivering the fair and balanced news coverage that our viewers have grown to trust and depend on. It has been tremendously inspiring to watch FOX News flourish these past 20 years, and I am beyond excited for the network to continue its dominance into our next decade.
Congratulations to the entire staff, and thank you for helping to build this great national institution.