News Corporation headquarters, home of Fox News, in Manhattan on April 18, 2023 in New York City.
Spencer Platt | Good pictures
Fox Corp. reported a quarterly net loss on Tuesday due to costs related to a settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, despite a boost in revenue from the Super Bowl and its fast ad-supported streaming service Tubi.
Fox had $4.08 billion in quarterly revenue, up 18% from the same period last year. Its ad revenue rose behind the Super Bowl – the most-watched event in US TV history with 115 million viewers, generating around $650 million in total ad revenue. The company also saw a boost in viewership for Tubi after airing more NFL games during the season.
The company said on Tuesday has posted Its fiscal quarter saw a net loss of $54 million due to charges related to settlement costs, compared with a profit of $283 million in the same period last year.
Last month, Fox agreed to pay Dominion $787.5 million to settle a defamation lawsuit that alleged Dominion’s machines swayed the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
While the company isn’t likely to see a big dent in its bottom line because of the Dominion lawsuit, it has faced higher legal costs in recent quarters related to the lawsuit, due to depositions and pre-trial preparation, CFO Steve Tomczyk said Tuesday.
Executives said Tuesday they don’t expect the litigation costs to impact stock purchases.
The settlement stopped a trial in its tracks that included appearances on the witness stand from top executives and Fox News talent, including Chairman Rupert Murdoch.
“We have made the business decision to resolve this dispute and avoid a divisive trial and multi-year appeals process, a decision that is clearly in the best interest of the company and its shareholders,” CEO Lachlan Murdoch said on Tuesday’s earnings call. “This settlement in no way changes Fox’s commitment to the highest journalistic standards across our organization or our passion for unabashedly reporting the news of the day.”
The CEO said Tuesday that a Delaware court has “severely limited” his defense because of a pretrial ruling. Among the challenges he pointed to was the judge’s ruling that Fox could not use newsworthiness as a defense.
The company previously said, and Murdoch echoed Tuesday, that Fox has “always acted as a news organization, reporting on the newsworthy events of the day,” including allegations made publicly by then-President Donald Trump and his allies. . Fox has argued that it is protected by the First Amendment, which Murdoch echoed Tuesday when discussing the remaining defamation lawsuit Fox faces from another voting technology company, Smartmatic USA.
Murdoch noted that the Smartmatic case is moving at a “fundamentally different pace” than Dominion’s, as it could go to trial in 2025, but retains all of its First Amendment protections.
After Fox’s settlement with Dominion, the network fired top on-air host Tucker Carlson, a surprising move for the network that saw high ratings for its prime-time program “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
On Tuesday, Murdoch said there would be no change in Fox’s prime-time programming strategy, adding that the network is “always adjusting our programming and our lineup, and that’s what we’re constantly doing.” Although prime-time ratings in Carlson’s slot have declined since his departure, Fox remains the top-rated cable news channel.