Ailes, 75, will report to Rupert Murdoch and his sons Lachlan and James once the executive management changes go into effect at 21st Century Fox on July 1. Ailes will be the only division head at the company to report to all three Murdochs.
FOR THE RECORD
June 25, 1:43 p.m.: The headline on an earlier version of this article said that Fox News chief Roger Ailes received a contract extension. He received a new contract.
Rupert Murdoch becomes executive co-chairman for the company, Lachlan Murdoch will be executive co-chairman and brother James will be chief executive. While the move begins a transfer of power to Murdoch's sons, the elder Murdoch is expected to remain active in the company's operations.
Ailes' future with the company became the subject of speculation as a result of the moves. His last contract as chairman and chief executive of Fox News and Fox Business and chairman of Fox Television Stations was set to expire in 2016, and his relationship with Murdoch's sons was reportedly strained.
When the new management structure was first reported, Fox Business Network made a point of saying Ailes would continue to report to Rupert Murdoch. The formal announcement that followed contradicted that report, saying Ailes would report to James and Lachlan Murdoch.
The Thursday announcement of Ailes' deal appears to smooth over any differences there might have been over the reporting structure. Ailes was undoubtedly helped by the strong financial performance of Fox News, a unit that he essentially built from scratch in 1996. Last year it accounted for 18% of 21st Century Fox's profit. At the very least, it likely guarantees Ailes a comfortable parachute if changes are made down the road.
"He created a hugely successful and profitable network, and the Murdochs needed to keep him happy," said Joe Peyronnin, an associate journalism professor at Hofstra University who served as a news executive at several networks, including Fox.
When James Murdoch, speaking at the Cannes Lions festival, was asked if he agreed with the conservative politics espoused by some of the hosts on Fox News, he said, "I don't let my politics get involved in my business," according to the Guardian.
The move to keep Ailes was warmly received inside Fox News and Fox Business, where the executive is known for being fiercely loyal to his on-air talent.
"In my opinion, that's a very good thing for this network and for America," Fox Business anchor Stuart Varney said when reporting the new deal.