Fox Corp. Delays Return to the Office Until April 2021

Lachlan Murdoch
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Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch.

The media conglomerate had earlier targeted January for most staffers to resume on-site work.

As state and local officials across the United States report rises in COVID-19 cases in the days ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, Fox Corp. is delaying its plan to have most staffers return to work in offices until at least April 2021.

In a memo to staffers on Friday, CEO and chairman Lachlan Murdoch said that the media conglomerate revised earlier guidance for a return to work from January until later in the spring.

"It was our hope that the trajectory of the pandemic would be such that we could begin our reopening in January 2021," Murdoch wrote. "However, with cases continuing to rise, we have delayed our next possible phase one reopening date to no earlier than April 2021."

Fox Corp., comprised of about 9,000 employees at Fox News, Fox Sports and Fox Entertainment, as well as local TV stations and streaming service Tubi, is headquartered in Midtown Manhattan.

"With most employees continuing to work remotely through at least the end of March, we are able to maintain a low density in our offices for those employees whose jobs do require them to be on site," Murdoch noted.

The company, formed from assets not included in the sale of much of 21st Century Fox to Disney for $71.3 billion, saw a notable advertising revenue increase in its cable networks unit this year, driven by political advertising during a presidential campaign.

But, in Fox Corp.'s earnings disclosure on Nov. 3, the firm detailed the pandemic's economic toll, noting that COVID-19 "caused some of the Company’s advertisers to reduce their spending" this year as overall advertising revenues fell 7 percent in the three months before Sept. 30.

Fox News underwent a round of layoffs in September and Fox Sports, hit by cancelations of live sports events, cut staffers in July. The company, which had implemented pay reductions for 700 employees in April, restored pay for those staffers in August.

In his Nov. 20 note, Murdoch added that Fox Corp. will cover "full-time employees’ health insurance premiums for the entirety of calendar 2021. In March 2020, we began paying full-time employees’ health insurance premiums and will now continue to do so through December 31, 2021."