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Murdoch's sons to become CEO, co-chair at 21st Century Fox

Updated: 2015-06-12 08:15

Additionally, Martin said James will need to overcome the baggage caused by his link to the hacking scandal, which occurred when he oversaw international operations. He'll also have to deal with the stigma of being the son of the founder.

"He has to prove to Wall Street that he deserves the chair," she said.

As some think about how Murdoch's sons will run the company, they notice there's no role for 46-year-old Elisabeth, one of Murdoch's four daughters, who had been brought into a prominent role in the family business when her production company Shine was acquired by News Corp in 2011. But her role had already diminished when Shine was merged with Endemol in a joint venture last year and she stepped away from day-to-day operations.

Murdoch's eldest daughter, Prudence, was reportedly named to a board that oversees News Corp's U.K. newspapers, The Times and Sunday Times, in 2011. Murdoch's two youngest daughters by ex-wife Wendi Deng have an economic stake in Fox and News Corp but no voting shares.

"I think the boys are back," said David Folkenflik, an NPR reporter who wrote a book called "Murdoch's World: The Last of the Old Media Empires." They are "yoked together in a sort of competitive collaboration."

Still, he notes that their father is "atop all this for now."

Michael Wolff, another Murdoch biographer who wrote "The Man Who Owns The News," says none of his children should be counted out. And neither can he.

"There's the larger question, is the father going anywhere? I would say he's not going anywhere until God takes him," Wolff said.

Fox News and CNBC first reported news of the changes at 21st Century Fox earlier Thursday. But in a statement, 21st Century Fox acknowledged the pending changes saying that "the matter of succession is on the agenda at our upcoming, regularly scheduled board meeting."

The company started with a single newspaper in Murdoch's native Australia. He expanded it across many media platforms in Britain, the U.S., Germany, Italy and India. He started the Fox network in the 1980s after ABC, CBS and NBC had dominated for a half-century. Then he tackled cable TV with Fox News, which quickly toppled CNN as the cable news leader.

But his newspapers have had a harder time. A phone hacking scandal in the U.K. forced the closure of tabloid News of the World, and he's widely seen as paying too much with his $5 billion acquisition of Dow Jones and its flagship, The Wall Street Journal. Under pressure from investors, he split the original News Corp into print and entertainment companies in 2013.

Murdoch also is the executive chairman at News Corp, the company that now contains Journal and New York Post newspapers and book publisher HarperCollins.

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