Rupert Murdoch, his son Lachlan and other Fox executives will take pay cuts

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NEW YORK – Murdoch’s Corp, the owner of Fox News and the Fox television network, announced pay to its executive ranks that will affect 700 employees as it worked to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Fox Corp chief executive Murdoch, the elder of Rupert, made the announcement in a memo sent to the company’s 7,700 workers on Wednesday (April 22).

“While we don’t know exactly when we will return to normal and full operations across the company, we have decided to take several new actions to ensure that we remain strong and are well-positioned when this crisis recedes,” Lachlan Murdoch said.

He and the family patriarch will forgo their entire salaries through September, though most of their compensation comes from stock awards and bonuses. Rupert Murdoch makes US$5 million (S$7.1 million) in salary but his compensation tops US$29 million with incentives and stock. Lachlan Murdoch makes US$3 million in salary, with an additional US$20 million coming from stocks and bonuses.

Fox, which will report its earnings for the first three months of the year on May 6, is expected to see a 22 per cent jump in revenue to US$3.3 billion, according to a survey of analysts by S&P Capital IQ, partly on increased licensing fees for its channels such as Fox News.

But the company has taken some hits to its advertising business after its broadcast division lost key sports programming, including Major League Baseball, and Nascar, a big ratings draw.

Other high level executives, including John Nallen, the chief operating officer; Viet Dinh, the head of the legal department; and Steve Tomsic, the chief financial officer, will also forgo their salaries, though they too stand to benefit from many more millions in stock and bonuses. The company should save about US$6 million with those reductions, based on filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Executives who report to Murdoch will see a 50 per cent reduction in pay for the same period, including the chief executive of Fox News, Suzanne Scott, and those working at the level of vice president will have their salaries reduced by 15 per cent, but only from May through July. The company is also suspending pay raises for all employees and its board of directors.

Lachlan Murdoch stressed the importance of helping front line workers impacted by the coronavirus, and suggested that employees could try “virtual volunteering.”

His call for a workforce effort against the virus stands in contrast to how some Fox on-air personalities have talked about the pandemic. In March, Trish Regan, a Fox Business anchor, described concerns about the virus as a “scam” fueled by President Donald Trump’s political opponents; her show went on hiatus, and she left the network weeks later. More recently, the Fox News hosts Jeanine Pirro and Laura Ingraham have promoted anti-lockdown rallies across the country.

In his memo, Lachlan Murdoch said, “As a company, we have a responsibility in this moment to help each other and those in need and we are using our platforms and resources to inform our viewers and to give back to our audiences.”

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