Lachlan Murdoch Dismisses 'Fixer Upper' Viacom Channels, Defends Fox News

Austin Hargrave
James (left) and Lachlan Murdoch

It would be foolish to "follow a failed strategy rather than stick with the winning strategy," the executive said while comparing FNC to CNN and MSNBC.

If Viacom is considering selling any of its cable channels, perhaps it shouldn't bother pitching them to 21st Century Fox.

On Wednesday, Fox executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch dismissed Viacom's channels as "add-on fixer-uppers" that the company built by his father, Rupert Murdoch, does not want.

Lachlan Murdoch also isn't impressed with CNN or MSNBC, both of which compete with the more right-leaning Fox News Channel, so he sees no reason for new FNC co-presidents Bill Shine and Jack Abernethy to emulate either of those channels.

FNC should not, he said at a conference Wednesday, "follow a failed strategy rather than stick with the winning strategy."

He said his father, who has been interim CEO of Fox News since Roger Ailes stepped down in July amid allegations of sexual misconduct, is the perfect choice, given he has spent more time there than any other executive has in the past two years.

"He's got more energy and ideas than ever," Murdoch said of his father. He added FNC has been the No. 1 cable news channel for 176 straight months.

Murdoch reminded the Wall Street analysts in attendance at the 2016 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in Beverly Hills that the conglomerate moved very fast to rectify the problems at FNC after anchor Gretchen Carlson first leveled her accusations at Ailes. Two weeks after she filed her lawsuit, Ailes was gone.

"It's hard to imagine another organization that could move that quickly," Murdoch said.

As for Viacom, it's no secret the conglomerate is trying to ease its $12 billion debt load, in part by possibly selling a stake in Paramount, but analysts also are presuming that it would entertain bids for some of its cable channels.

"We don't need them and we wouldn't be interested in them,"  Murdoch said during the conference after an analyst asked him if Fox might want to buy any of Viacom's channels.

Murdoch, in fact, said that Fox already has the "best brands and the best content" when it comes to television. He added that the conglomerate will spend an additional $200 million in content for FX Networks and the National Geographic Channels this year.

On the broadcast side, Murdoch promised the upcoming season of the hit show, Empire, will be its "best season .... ever."

At the film studio, Stacey Snider recently replaced Jim Gianopulos after a string of lackluster performances of high-profile movies. 

"The studio is profitable, it's doing fine, but it should be doing much better," Murdoch said.