ALEX BRUMMER: Fox carries on regardless… but what does the future hold

Fox carries on regardless: Murdoch’s US empire remains a force of nature… but what does the future hold, asks ALEX BRUMMER

Hard to be surprised by the £656million settlement that Murdoch-controlled Fox Corporation has reached with Dominion Voting Systems.

Fox clearly went too far in buying into a Donald Trump-created narrative of electronic vote-rigging in the 2020 election and may have opened itself up to another settlement over a lawsuit launched by software provider Smartmatic USA.

Fans of ‘Succession’ on Sky Atlantic will be fascinated by the current legal imbroglio and what the future holds for Fox should Rupert Murdoch, currently a frisky 92-year-old, eventually expire.

But for the moment Fox News and its most outspoken anchor person Tucker Carlson appear reluctant to delink from the Trump brand in spite of the legal isolation of the former president.

Election drama: Fox went too far in buying into a Donald Trump created narrative of electronic vote-rigging in the 2020 election

Watching Fox as against its competitors MSNBC or CNN is like inhabiting different worlds. All the channels are absolutely focused on domestic America, and international events struggle to make a dent.

CNN does make more of an effort than others and all agree that China, once considered a ‘friendly’ economic rival, should now be condemned to utter darkness. It is the overall coverage which is so bizarre.

CNN and MSNBC and their line-up of commentators are obsessed with the legal threats facing Trump as a result of alleged financial irregularities in New York (including payments to porn stars).

They constantly big up what they consider more serious charges being prepared in Georgia for trying to influence an election count as well as Trump’s purported incitement of the January 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol.

In spite of the drama of Trump’s New York indictment, there is a view among the political commentators that if the Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg had not targeted Trump the financial discrepancies would be no more than audit or regulatory infringements dealt with by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Nevertheless, we should be reminded that it was the Internal Revenue Service, not the FBI, that did for gangster Al Capone.

Fox’s defence against Trump is to claim that Joe Biden is just as bad. There is an infinite belly-aching about how when Biden was vice-president his wayward son Hunter was a frequent White House visitor and alleged influence peddler.

As for Biden, the classified documents found in his garage are seen as just as damaging to his re-election prospects as the Trump cache is to the former president.

Fox, for all its apparent partisanship, is riveting viewing. Its Right-wing agenda is a continuous soap opera which makes it a huge draw for advertisers, subscribers and streamers. 

It remains a force of nature and clearly believes that an expensive settlement with Dominion is a price worth paying for not washing dirty linen in public.

Low Teck

Glencore’s battle for Teck Resources is far from over.

Ivan Glasenberg may have been replaced as chief executive by Gary Nagle but as Mick ‘the miner’ Davis learned in 2013, when Glencore bought Xstrata, the London-quoted firm has a history of winning. 

If Nagle is to secure a Teck victory he will need support from Canada’s Keevil family, which has a controlling interest. 

Teck wants to do the splits on its own and possibly find a buyer for its metallurgical coal interests.

Glencore seeks the whole caboodle, deepening its interest in copper and nickel.

It provides the opportunity to do its own spin-off of profitable coal interests, easing the concerns of climate change activists.

There are deep pockets. Currently, the Glencore offer is worth £18.5billion but JP Morgan analysts suggest there could be a further £4billion on the table. When it comes to most takeovers, money ultimately speaks.

Kicking off

One bid stalling is the takeover of Manchester United FC. Potential buyers look to be baulking at the £4.8billion price in spite of the value of a ubiquitous brand.

Instead, owners Joel and Avram Glazer are seeking to engage buy-out specialists, with Carlyle mentioned.

For better or worse, Chelsea is fully in private equity hands and Real Madrid and Barcelona in hock to buy-out firms.

There is no shortage of credit for sports franchises with American football team Carolina Panthers changing hands for an eye-popping £4.8billion this month.