Fox CEO Defends Dominion Settlement: ‘We Made the Business Decision to Resolve This Dispute’
Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch addressed the company’s $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems during the media giant’s fiscal third quarter earnings call on Tuesday.
“We made the business decision to resolve this dispute and avoid the acrimony of a divisive trial and a multi-year appeal process, a decision clearly in the best interest of the company and its shareholders,” Murdoch told analysts and investors. “The settlement in no way alters Fox’s commitment to the highest journalistic standards or our passion for unabashedly reporting the news of the day.”
The Denver-based voting technology firm had accused top Fox News hosts and some network guests of defaming the company after they suggested its machines had been hacked or compromised during the 2020 presidential election. Fox, which had stridently denied any wrongdoing, informed investors of the settlement but offered few details on its broader financial implications for the company. The company may be able to write off a significant portion of the expense from its taxes.
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Murdoch said that the network “always acted as a news organization reporting on the newsworthy events of the day, which certainly included allegations being made by the sitting president of the United States and his lawyers in the aftermath of a hotly contested presidential election” but noted that the Delaware Court “severely limited our defense as a trial through pretrial rulings.”
“We determined that the best course of action for the company and its shareholders was to settle instead of proceeding with a six week trial and potentially two or even three years of appeals,” he added.
Murdoch’s comments on Dominion come as the voting technology company Smartmatic has filed a separate defamation lawsuit seeking $2.7 billion. He noted that Smartmatic is a “fundamentally different case than Dominion in that all of our full compliment of First Amendment defenses remain.”
“We’ll be ready to defend this case surrounding extremely newsworthy events when it goes to trial likely not until the calendar year in 2025,” he added.
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Fox Corporation reported a net loss of $50 million on Tuesday, or a loss of 10 cents per share, for its fiscal third quarter of 2023. Adjusted for one-time items, the company earned 94 cents per share. A Fox spokesperson told TheWrap that the company booked an $850 million charge in its Other segment “net in relation to the Fox News Media defamation cases, reflecting all incurred and estimable costs at this time.”
Fox shares climbed 2.7% as the markets opened Tuesday following the earnings announcement.
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