Shareholders Urge Fox Corp to Differentiate News & Opinion Labels
Shareholder Resolution Filed to Address Blurred Lines at Fox Corp
On May 23, investors, including well-known activist John Chevedden, filed a shareholder resolution calling on Fox Corp to study using on-air branding to distinguish its news and opinion programming. This action is a response to concerns over blurred lines between journalism and opinion content, which could pose significant risks to the company and national democracy.
According to documented evidence and sworn testimony, FOX News actively propagated false assertions regarding Dominion, despite their executives and pundits knowing the claims to be unfounded. These records reveal that FOX News deliberately aimed to create uncertainty surrounding the outcomes of the US election and provoke anger among its audience, all with the intention of preserving their market dominance and generating profits.
Fox Corp’s Annual Meeting and Defamation Settlement
The resolution, meant for the media company’s annual meeting traditionally held in the fall, cites Fox Corp’s recent $787.5 million settlement of a defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems. The lawsuit was over Fox’s coverage of false vote-rigging claims in the 2020 U.S. election. Despite the settlement, Fox News viewers continue to perceive the company’s non-news shows as journalism, according to the resolution’s introduction.
Resolution Proposed by Shareholder Activist Group As You Sow
As You Sow, a shareholder activist group, wrote the resolution. It calls for Fox’s board to report on the risks of blurred lines between news and opinion programming and to consider “providing public differentiation” between news and non-news shows. One example provided by the proponents suggests including a “Fox Opinion!” label on broadcasts by popular host Sean Hannity.
John Chevedden and the Likelihood of the Proposal’s Success
John Chevedden, a private investor based near Los Angeles, is one of the most prolific filers of shareholder resolutions for corporate annual meetings. He has traditionally focused on governance topics, such as splitting the chairman and CEO titles. Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch and family members own about 42% of the company’s voting shares, according to last year’s proxy, making it unlikely that the advisory proposal would gain a majority of support.
Potential Impact of the Resolution
Even if the proposal does not gain majority support, a strong showing can lead to changes. For instance, after a resolution at Fox calling for more lobbying disclosure received support from 43% of votes cast in 2021, the company published a political activities report detailing much of its spending. Fox Corp has declined to comment on the matter.