News, Culture & Society

Disney purges Fox brand from assets including 20th Century TV

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. bought 20th Century Fox, an established movie studio formed in 1935 when Twentieth Century Pictures and the Fox Film Corporation merged, in the 1980s to add to his fast-growing media empire.  

At the time, he owned newspapers in the UK and Australia and buying Fox put him in the foray of American film and television.

As part of the deal, he obtained a string of American TV stations.  

Under his ownership, the movie studios continued to churn our blockbuster movies and the TV channels aired provocative entertainment shows.

The entire empire however took on a new form when Murdoch launched Fox News in 1996, favoring Republican politician candidates and pushing the boundaries of what had been responsibly reported on television in America.

Rupert Murdoch announced Fox News with Roger Ailes in 1996

Rupert Murdoch announced Fox News with Roger Ailes in 1996

Over the next several decades, as Fox News’ reputation for controversial, conservative news coverage spread, Murdoch became synonymous with it.  

In a wider sense, News Corp. weathered scandals including the phone hacking fiasco in the UK which shuttered News of the World. 

Ailes died in 2017 after being fired from Fox amid a string of sexual misconduct scandals dating back decades

Ailes died in 2017 after being fired from Fox amid a string of sexual misconduct scandals dating back decades

Fox News soon became universally known as just Fox and the separation between the Murdoch’s entertainment and news divisions became less clear. 

As he eyed a deal with Sky in Europe to bolster the news division, Disney – keen to broaden its entertainment footing with the growing success of streaming services – set its sights on the Fox brand’s entertainment divisions. 

Around the time of negotiations, Fox News faced its biggest scandal to date; a series of high profile anchors and lower-level employees accusing Chairman Roger Ailes of sexual harassment and, in some cases, assault. 

It emerged afterwards that Fox had not only paid settlements to some of his accusers, but that it had also done so for other distinguished male hosts like Bill O’Reilly. 

The scandal erupted at the dawn of the #MeToo movement and made Fox one of the many corporate poster children for male misogyny. 

It has since implemented a drastic overhaul and says it encourages safe and fair practices in the workplace. 

In 2017, The Walt Disney Company announced plans to purchase most of the 21st Century Fox assets, including 20th Century Fox.

After fending off a competing bid from Comcast, Disney ended up paying $71 billion to get the deal done.

Immediately preceding the acquisition, 21st Century Fox spun off the newly formed Fox Corporation, consisting of the Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox Television Stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business, FS1, FS2, Fox Deportes, and the Big Ten Network.

In January 2020, Disney began to rebrand Fox’s studios to remove references to ‘Fox’ from their names, with 20th Century Fox being renamed ’20th Century Studios’, and Fox Searchlight Pictures being renamed ‘Searchlight Pictures’.

On August 10, 2020, Disney announced a reorganization and rebranding of its television studios, with 20th Century Fox Television being absorbed by 20th Television, and Fox 21 Television Studios being rebranded as Touchstone Television.  


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