Lachlan Murdoch: Center-left viewers helping fuel Fox News ratings

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Lachlan Murdoch, CEO of Fox News’s parent company, said this week that viewers from the center and center-left have helped the cable news channel’s ratings in recent months.

“The share [of viewers] that we are taking today and in the last months has been obscene, and the share is coming from the center or the center-left,” Murdoch, head of Fox Corp., said Thursday at the MoffettNathanson Media and Communications Summit.

“The proof is in the pudding in that if you look at Fox News, we have more independent voters than any other network,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks from information company Aiera.

A 2020 Pew Research Center study found that the average Fox News viewer is to the right of the average U.S. adult, while noting that Fox viewers are not “as far to the right as the audiences of some other outlets.”

A more recent Pew study found that “about three-in-ten Democrats and those who lean Democratic get political news from Fox.”

CNN beat Fox in ratings battles earlier this year, but since then Fox News regained its spot as the ratings leader, even as audiences numbers for the major cable news channels have declined since President Biden took office.

When asked if he worries about conservative competitors like Newsmax and One America News, Murdoch said he is generally pleased with what he calls Fox News’s “center-right” take on society.

“That’s where we think our audience is, and we think that’s where middle America is, and we’re happy with that positioning,” he said.

But he went on to say that Fox News’s standing naturally invites competition from conservative outlets.

“That means that there’s space to our left and to our right for new competitors to come in,” he said. “But we’re confident in our journalism. We’re confident in our reporting. We’re very happy with our opinion hosts.”

Murdoch added that it’s cheaper to produce opinion compared with news programming and that becoming a serious rival to Fox News “would require obviously not only a huge investment to compete with but a huge depth … of management resources.”

Murdoch declined to say whether he ever steps in to mediate between opinion and news at Fox, while emphasizing that Suzanne Scott, the CEO of Fox News, runs the cannel’s day-to-day operations.

“Ultimately, she makes the programming decisions, and as she works with our talent and the producers to produce really, I think, some of the best television news in the world or the best television news and opinion anywhere.”

Murdoch garnered headlines for comments at a similar conference earlier this year — the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom investors gathering — when he described Fox News as Biden’s loyal opposition.

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