In a memo sent to staffers, the executive chairman of 21st Century Fox praised weekly ratings performance by Fox News and its sister outlet, Fox Business Network, telling employees of the two operations that the parent company is “immensely proud of the team” at both outlets.
Ratings data from Nielsen last week show Fox News last week ranked first in terms of overall viewers in both primetime and total day in all of basic cable, boosted by coverage of the Republican National Convention and the acceptance speech of its candidate for President, Donald Trump. Fox News also ranked first in primetime for the week in the demographic most coveted by advertisers, people between 25 and 54. Fox Business, meanwhile, won more viewers than CNBC in coverage of last week’s Republican National Convention, according to Nielsen,
“The power of the brand has never been stronger, and I look forward to working with all of you to continue the momentum,” said Murdoch in his note.
The memo and a recent small print-ad campaign that made the rounds over the weekend and on Monday suggest Fox News isn’t going to change the way it goes to market, even as it contends with allegations of sexual-harassment that prompted the ouster of Roger Ailes, its longtime leader and guiding force. Ailes has denied that he sexually harassed former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, who charged in a lawsuit filed earlier this month that the executive propositioned her after she complained about treatment of women at the network. Some other former employees have come forward in New York magazine and The New York Times pointing to other instances of unwelcome behavior. Ailes left the network after the parent company started an internal review of Carlson’s allegations.
Murdoch nodded to the imbroglio in his memo. “There’s no doubt this has been a challenging time – amid the conventions and multitude of domestic and international breaking news stories, we had to face being the news last week as well,” he said. “Despite the extraordinary circumstances, we never compromised our dedication to the viewers and everyone’s professionalism was on display throughout.”
Murdoch took the role of executive chairman of Fox News and is also serving as the unit’s interim chief executive, while an operating team of news executives already in place continue to run daily operations.