James Murdoch says Fox News did a good job in transitioning from Roger Ailes

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On Monday, 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch gave his father an "A+" in handling Fox News after the departure of Roger Ailes, saying Rupert Murdoch "rolled up his sleeves and kept the show on the road."

Speaking at the UBS 44th Annual Global Media and Communications Conference, Murdoch didn't specifically talk about the sexual harassment allegations that led to Ailes' departure last July, but he did allude to what happened by speaking how a transition had to occur quickly at the cable news network.

"I think we did a good job in acting decisively," Murdoch told investors, adding that news coverage was strong at Fox News throughout the election and that viewers have been re-introduced to new hosts like Bret Hume and Tucker Carlson. Murdoch also touted ratings, saying that since Donald Trump's victory in early November, "frankly they are less down than we expected."

Expressing a very positive if careful view about 21st Century Fox's direction, Murdoch played down the idea that his company would pursue bold acquisitions as AT&T seeks to buy Time Warner and as Viacom and CBS hold their own merger talks.

See photos of Roger Ailes:

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Roger Ailes through the years
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Roger Ailes through the years
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 13: In this handout photo provided by FOX News, FOX News Channel Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes is photographed November 13, 2015 at the networks Manhattan headquarters New York City. (Photo by Wesley Mann/FOX News via Getty Images)
Bill O'Reilly, tv columnist, at left, shown here with Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of FOX tv at the Radio & TV Correspondents annual dinner held at the Washington Hilton. (Photo by Susan Biddle/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
SLUG: ST/AILES DATE: 3/23/99 NP PHOTOG: Helayne Seidman/FTWP multi use LOCATION: Fox News, 1211 6th Ave. NYC SUMMARY: Roger Ailes, president of Fox TV CAPTION: Roger Ailes, president of Fox TV, in the Fox TV control room. Original Filename: npsent.JPG ORG XMIT: ; 29
385602 07: Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, right, testifies during a hearing on election night 2000 coverage by the networks before the House committee on energy and commerce February 14, 2001 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D. C. Heads of major news organizations have converged on Capitol Hill to testify before Congress, explaining the mistaken calls made on Election Night and promising changes to prevent further errors. (Photo by Alex Wong/Newsmakers)
WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 25: Chairman and CEO of the Fox News Network Roger Ailes participates in the 'America's Best Leaders: How do they lead? Where are they taking us?' National Issues Briefing hosted by U.S. News and World Report October 25, 2005 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The talk was held in collaboration with the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images for U.S. News and World Report)
NEW YORK - JUNE 26: (L-R) Variety Editor Peter Bart and Producer Roger Ailes attend a cocktail party hosted by Harvey and Bob Weinstein and Miramax Books to celebrate Peter Bart's new book ''BOFFO'' on June 26, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - JULY 24: Chairman & CEO, FOX News Roger Ailes from 'Fox News' speaks onstage during the 2006 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour for the FOX Broadcasting Company at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel on July 24, 2006 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JANUARY 08: Roger Ailes, president of FOX News, poses with his wife Elizabeth on the red carpet upon arrival at a salute to FOX News Channel's Brit Hume on January 8, 2009 in Washington, DC. Hume was honored for his 35 years in journalism. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: Fox News President Roger Ailes attends the Hollywood Reporter celebrates 'The 35 Most Powerful People in Media' at the Four Season Grill Room on April 11, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 21: Copies of the new book The Loudest Voice in the Room are displayed at a Books Inc. bookstore on January 21, 2014 in San Francisco, United States. The unauthorized biography of FOX News president Roger Ailes written by New York magazine writer Gabriel Sherman hit bookstore shelves on January 14. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 13: In this handout photo provided by FOX News, FOX News Channel Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes is photographed November 13, 2015 at the networks Manhattan headquarters New York City. (Photo by Wesley Mann/FOX News via Getty Images)
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"Let's not get too concerned with empire building, get scale for scale's sake" he said. "That's not what we are interested in. We've passed on a lot of opportunities. We want to be very disciplined... We don't feel the urge to go acquire some other large piece."

Murdoch spent most of his 45 minutes on stage hyping the opportunities in digital, saying that he's not concerned with slipping television ratings if it means that the company is attracting viewership on streaming platforms where there's a greater ability to better track audiences and deliver higher quality advertising. He predicted a coming wave of digital growth, although unlike CBS or HBO, Murdoch doesn't seem particularly ready to launch an over-the-top platform for Fox that would take its content directly to consumers. He noted the challenges in managing churn, accepting credit payments, and having a fundamentally different relationship with consumers. He also spoke of concern for too much fragmentation in the market.

Talking about how Fox has made deals with DirecTV Now and Sling as well has touting what's coming to Hulu, Murdoch added, "I still think the streaming business is something we are leaning into hard because we think it is a better business."


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