In every empire with an aging monarch, the hint of a new crown price is enough to whip courtiers into a frenzy. So it was Thursday, when CNBC reported, based on inside sources, that James Murdoch, Rupert’s son, is being tapped to take his father’s chair as CEO of 21st Century Fox.
There’s a great deal that’s still unclear about the change—for example, when it will happen and exactly what role James Murdoch will play. His older brother Lachlan is also getting a new role, as co-chairman. There’s also some questions about how serious a role change this is. The 84-year-old Australian mogul doesn’t seem ready to fade off into retirement anytime soon. CNBC cautioned that “no one doubts the elder Murdoch will still have the final say on whatever goes on at Fox.” (Markets, apparently not so sure, battered Fox’s stock after the news.)
James Murdoch, 42, seems to have survived a near-death experience as head of News International, the British division of the company. (Lachlan is 43.) When the company was investigated in a massive phone-hacking scandal, he was forced to testify before Parliament, was repeatedly accused of being a liar, and eventually resigned. In contrast to the prevailing politics at the company, he is said to be “steadfastly liberal.”