Murdoch said there are inherent risks whenever colleagues or creative partners tweet their views in a public space — indeed, his own father, Rupert Murdoch, ultimately abandoned Twitter. He said media companies must tolerate a diversity of voices, and can write contracts around behavioral norms.
But there are occasions when behavior crosses a line.
“You have to make the right call,” said Murdoch in remarks at the start of the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes. “It’s not really about keeping an audience going. It’s about what’s the right thing to do for your brand, for your customers.”
Challenged about the wisdom of canceling a popular new show, Murdoch noted that Fox removed the host of its highest-rated Fox News Channel show, Bill O’Reilly, following allegations of sexual misconduct.
“We made the right decision,” Murdoch said. “When you lead like that, people get the idea really quickly.”
Murdoch took the stage for the first time since reports confirmed he would not be joining Disney following its acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox. He will not remain with the newly constituted Fox company comprised of the Fox broadcast and news networks, among other assets.
“I think it’s time to do something new,” said Murdoch of his decision, without elaborating about his next chapter.
Murdoch’s future had been the subject of furious speculation since the $52.4 billion all-stock deal was announced late last year. Some people close to the deal suggested a possible senior role within the Magic Kingdom — though Disney CEO Bob Iger seemed far more tepid about the idea, telling investors during one earnings call “he and I will continue to discuss whether there is a role for him here or not.”
A reorganization in March positioned two Disney insiders as possible successors to Iger: former chief strategy officer Kevin Mayer, who was elevated to chairman of the direct-to-consumer and International businesses, and parks chief Bob Chapek, whose portfolio expanded to include consumer products.
That executive reshuffle seemingly left no top gig for Murdoch, who will likely launch a venture-capital firm.