The new standalone entity Fox Corp. held a town hall on Thursday, just over a day after the official closing of the 21st Century Fox-Disney merger.
Fox Corp. chairman and CEO Lachlan Murdoch led the meeting, at which sources say he announced that all employees would receive stock in the new company. The amount of stock the employees receive will depend on how long they have been at the company. Employees with 10 years or less under their belts will receive $1000 in stock, while those with 10-20 years will receive $2000. Fox employees who have been there for 20 years or more will receive $3000.
“You’re all owners,” Murdoch said. “Each and every one of you has a voice and we want it to be heard.” Though it was not explicitly stated, many took this news as a signal that Fox Corp. would not be undergoing layoffs like those that have affected the Fox assets now owned by Disney.
Murdoch also referred to the company as “a start up called Fox with substantial assets.” He specifically called out scripted shows like “Empire,” “9-1-1,” “Last Man Standing,” and animated comedies like “The Simpsons,” unscripted hit “The Masked Singer,” and live programming like the NFL, MLB, and the WWE as assets that are key to the company’s portfolio.
He stressed the entrepreneurial nature of the new company, at one point reading a quote from former Fox Sports football analyst John Madden: “Somewhere in everyone’s life … you ought to be with a startup. If you’re with a startup that’s well funded, it’s going to be fun. Because you start off with a clean piece of paper.”
Murdoch also thanked his father, Rupert Murdoch, the company’s chairman, citing his “aversion to complacency” and praising him as a “catalyst for change.”
The meeting opened with a sizzle real highlighting the early days of the Fox broadcast network, including decades-old footage of stars such as Joan Rivers and Terry Bradshaw. The video included nods to the sports and news divisions. But Fox Entertainment’s programming assets were featured prominently. Though the video was different from that which aired Wednesday night, both relied on voiceover from “Empire” star Terrence Howard “Empire” character Lucious Lyon heralding a new beginning for the company. Sources who attended the town hall said that the video appeared to be meant to reinforce the massage that entertainment programming will play a central role in the new, leaner Fox.
Murdoch’s words echo those of Fox Entertainment chief Charlie Collier, who spoke at the TCA winter press tour in February about how the company would be getting a fresh start once the Disney deal was done.
“I think we’re going to have capabilities without a lot of the overhead that you saw before,” Collier said at the time, also stating that the broadcast network would now have greater flexibility in deal making now that it was not aligned with a vertically integrated studio.
With the Disney deal officially closed, Fox Corp. now includes Fox Entertainment (formerly Fox Broadcasting), Fox Television Stations Group, Fox News Group, and Fox Sports Media Group.