Fox Corp chief Lachlan Murdoch says lawsuit settled ‘to avoid divisive trial’

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Fox News paid 787 million dollars (£623 million) to settle a lawsuit over its reporting after the 2020 election to avoid a divisive trial and lengthy appeals process, its parent company’s boss has said.

Lachlan Murdoch, executive chairman and CEO of Fox Corp, also noted that a Delaware judge “severely limited” Fox’s defences against Dominion Voting Systems, which said the network defamed it by airing bogus charges of election fraud that it knew were untrue.

Fox Corp announced on Tuesday that it had lost 50 million dollars (£40 million) in the previous three months, which it attributed to the lawsuit settlement.

Tucker Carlson
Tucker Carlson (Richard Drew/AP)

Mr Murdoch said viewers and investors should expect no change in direction from Fox News.

“We made the business decision to resolve this dispute and avoid the acrimony of a divisive trial and multi-year appeal process, a decision clearly in the best interests of the company and its shareholders,” he said.

Fox still believes it was properly exercising its First Amendment rights to report on newsworthy fraud allegations made by former president Donald Trump, even though that defence was shot down in a pre-trial court ruling in the Dominion case, Mr Murdoch said.

That is important as Mr Murdoch said Fox intends to use the same defence against a similar lawsuit by another elections technology company, Smartmatic, which is not expected to go to trial until at least 2025, he added.

“There’s no change in programming strategy at Fox News,” he said. “It’s obviously a successful strategy. As always, we are adjusting our programming and our line-up and that’s what we continue to do.”

Fox News remains the leading cable news network, but it has lost viewers since Carlson’s firing. Last week’s substitute host, Lawrence Jones, reached between 1.28 million and 1.7 million in a time slot where Carlson usually drew around three million, the Nielsen company said.

But Fox has gained more than 40 new advertisers in that hour, the network said, confirming a report in Variety. Firms like Gillette, Scott’s Miracle Gro and Secret deodorant which had considered Carlson’s show a toxic environment have signed on.

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