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Murdochs and other Fox Corp. executives cut pay amid coronavirus shutdown

 Lachlan Murdoch, executive chairman of Fox Corp., speaks at the New York Times DealBook conference on Nov. 1, 2018, in New York City.
Lachlan Murdoch, executive chairman of Fox Corp., speaks at the New York Times DealBook conference on Nov. 1, 2018, in New York City.
(Stephanie Keith / Getty Images)

Fox Corp. has become the latest media company to slash salaries as the coronavirus has decimated the advertising marketplace.

In a memo to employees issued Wednesday, Fox Corp. Executive Chairman Lachlan Murdoch said he and his father, Rupert, would forgo their salaries through Sept. 30, as will the company’s chief operating officer, John Nallen; chief legal and policy officer, Viet Dinh; and chief policy officer, Steve Tomsic.

The Murdochs’ direct reports, which include Fox News Media Chief Executive Suzanne Scott, will take a 50% pay reduction over the same period. Executives at the vice president level or higher will see their salaries reduced 15% from May 1 through July 31.

The reductions will affect around 700 employees at the company, which includes its network TV operation, television stations, sports division and Fox News Media. Compensation increases also have been suspended.

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Lachlan Murdoch also said the company was extending its work-from-home policy — which includes more than 40 Fox News personalities who have been broadcasting remotely — through May 15. The company had earlier set a target for a May 4 return.

“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,” he wrote.

Stay-at-home orders have kept much of the nation indoors and watching plenty of television, although a large portion has been of streaming services such as Netflix, which saw a record gain in subscribers during the first quarter. The economic shutdown has cut deeply into ad spending and could wipe out as much as $10 billion in revenue for media companies during the first half of the year, according to a recent report by research firm EMarketer.

In the first half of 2019, broadcast and cable networks collected $33.9 billion in advertising spending, according to the report. It now estimates that TV networks could collect $24 billion to $26.3 billion in the first six months of this year.

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Fox stands to suffer a significant portion of that loss as its highest-rated programming is live sports events, which have been shut down indefinitely during the health emergency.

While Fox News commentators have taken controversial and contrarian views on some of the ways to handle the coronavirus, the company has been vigilant in observing social distancing and protecting the health of its employees. “Fox & Friends” weekend host Jedediah Bila has been home sick since contracting the virus earlier this month.

Other media companies announcing pandemic-related salary reductions include Conde Nast, BuzzFeed and California Times, parent company of the Los Angeles Times.


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