Shareholders ask Fox Corp to study labels for news vs opinion

By Ross Kerber

(Reuters) – 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.

The resolution meant for the media company’s annual meeting, traditionally held in the fall, cites its recent $787.5 million settlement of a defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems over Fox’s coverage of false vote-rigging claims in the 2020 U.S. election.

Even so, Fox News viewers continue to perceive the company’s non-news shows as journalism, which “poses significant risks to our Company and to our national democracy,” states an introduction to the resolution seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

A Fox spokesman declined to comment.

Specifically the resolution, written by shareholder activist group As You Sow, calls for Fox’s board to report on the risks of blurred lines between news and opinion, and to consider “providing public differentiation” between news and non-news shows.

For instance Fox could include a “Fox Opinion!” label on broadcasts by popular host Sean Hannity, according to an image provided by the proponents.

A private investor based near Los Angeles, Chevedden has been one of the most prolific filers of shareholder resolutions for corporate annual meetings and 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 the advisory proposal would gain a majority of support.

But even 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.

(Reporting by Ross Kerber and Helen Coster; Editing by David Gregorio)