The Parent Company of Fox News Cares A Lot About Global Warming

21st Century Fox has committed to sustainability for the long-term.

By watching Fox News’s coverage of climate change, a viewer would expect that Rupert Murdoch believes that global warming is a lie. Given that, it may be a surprise to many that in 2015 Murdoch committed 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, which Murdoch is Co-Chairman, to the American Business Act on Climate Pledge.[i] The pledge is President Obama’s effort to enlist the largest U.S. companies to help cut greenhouse gas emissions and support the push for a global climate deal in Paris.

Entertainment and media companies are not often top of mind when one thinks of the negative impact that climate change and resulting regulation can have on a company’s operations. However, many of the businesses of the media conglomerate have been affected by climate change. While the company is not a large carbon emitter (the only regulation to directly affect the company being the UK’s Carbon Reduction Commitment scheme), it has experienced the indirect impacts of climate regulations through increases in energy and other input costs.[ii] More concerning are the physical risks associated with climate change, especially severe weather. Storms have negatively impacted productions, including damage to sets and facilities, delayed shooting schedules, and undue electricity strains (brown-outs) on its 24-hour news network facilities in major metropolitan areas.[iii] From a revenue generation standpoint, storms lessen audience turnout to movie theaters, decreasing box office receipts, sometimes up to as much as 25%.[iv] The above was acutely felt when Superstorm Sandy hit New York City in 2014. That storm alone cost 21st Century Fox $2 million in damage.[v] Finally, there is a third, often overlooked, impact – how audiences, especially in a franchise media landscape, view the company’s actions toward climate change. As 21st Century Fox continues to build entertainment brands, a negative perception of the company’s actions to fight climate change can result in audiences abandoning its content, as seen by the negative PR associated with Fox News’s treatment on the subject.

Aware of these issues, Murdoch launched a company-wide sustainability initiative in 2007 (the company was still part of News Corp. back then), promising to make the company’s global operations more environmentally friendly and to become carbon neutral by 2010.[vi] The initial programs were small, including using energy efficient lighting in its offices and renewable energy where possible.[vii] However, in the years since, the company’s sustainability initiatives have increased. At its studio lot in Los Angeles, the company partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy to deploy new and more efficient cooling systems in their sound stages. Fox Home Entertainment partnered with Wal-Mart to reduce the resources and emissions embedded in their DVD and Blu-Ray supply chain. Changes made to packaging and manufacturing equipment resulted in an 11% reduction in the DVD footprint, including a 23% reduction in raw material consumption and a 24% drop in manufacturing emissions, creating an “Eco-Case” that has now become an industry standard. Both its film and television divisions created Green Production Guides that put forth best practices to create more energy efficient productions.[viii] As a result of these efforts, the company achieved carbon neutrality in 2011, four years after Murdoch first made the pledge.[ix]

While these internal efforts are important, the company has the potential to be much more impactful by informing and influencing its audience. Content is a powerful way to shape and change behavior, and 21st Century Fox has been wanting in this area. The airing of the climate change documentary Before the Flood on National Geographic (a 21st Century Fox Entity) this past week was a good first step, but the company’s mouthpiece is much larger and more content should be created and distributed around the subject. And, there’s still the issue of that cable channel known as Fox News.  (792 words)

[i] Siciliano, John. “Obama Climate Pledge Gets Surprising Ally.” Washington Examiner. The

Washington Examiner Http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/s3/wex15/img/wex_eagle_large.png, 01 Dec. 2015. Web. 03 Nov. 2016.

[ii] “Home – CDP.” Home – CDP. N.p., 2010. Web. 03 Nov. 2016.

[iii] “Home – CDP.” Home – CDP. N.p., 2010. Web. 03 Nov. 2016.

[iv] Schulman, Jeremy. “Fox News’ Parent Company Is Really Worried about Global Warming.”

Mother Jones. Mother Jones, 29 Oct. 2014. Web. 03 Nov. 2016.

[v] Schulman, Jeremy. “Fox News’ Parent Company Is Really Worried about Global Warming.”

Mother Jones. Mother Jones, 29 Oct. 2014. Web. 03 Nov. 2016.

[vi] “Rupert Murdoch Pledges to Make News Corp. Greener.” GreenBiz. Ed. GreenBiz. GreenBiz, 8

May 2007. Web. 03 Nov. 2016.

[vii] “Rupert Murdoch Pledges to Make News Corp. Greener.” GreenBiz. Ed. GreenBiz. GreenBiz, 8

May 2007. Web. 03 Nov. 2016.

[viii] “Case Study: 21st Century Fox Sustainability and Transparency.” 21st Century Fox Social

Impact. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2016.

[ix] Herrera, Tilde. “News Corp. Meets Carbon Neutral Goal, Looks for Next Challenge.” GreenBiz.

GreenBiz, 1 Mar. 2011. Web. 03 Nov. 2016.

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4 thoughts on “The Parent Company of Fox News Cares A Lot About Global Warming

  1. You have noted the marked inconsistency of 21st Century FOX and its subsidiary, FOX News, in their respective approaches towards combatting (or denying) climate change. While you have noted this conflict, do you truly think it’s possible for a company with such internal and external disagreement can actually bring positive awareness to the issue of climate change? Put another way, will the credibility of 21st Century FOX always be undermined by that of its subsidiary?

  2. I was also surprised to discover that 21st Century FOX had such extensive climate change initiatives. It seems like this would be a huge opportunity for FOX to change public perception of bias in the news industry. Regardless of whether or not you believe that climate change is happening, becoming more sustainable still seems like it would play well with the public in general. I don’t know what other industry leaders have done to make their operations more sustainable, but I’m sure that FOX knows. If they are truly an industry leader in this area, then why would they not make more of an effort to publicize this fact, particularly in their movie business?

  3. Your post motivated me to read 21st Century Fox’s Climate Disclosure Leader. Thank goodness Fox News installed a 400 kW natural gas fuel cell at its NY headquarters to help power its studio with low emissions energy. Meanwhile, as you pointed out, Fox News continues to be one of the premier forces behind climate denial. In 2013, only 28% of the channel’s claims on climate change were true, up from 7% in 2012 (in a study conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists which is summarized well here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2014/apr/08/fox-news-28-percent-accurate-climate-change).

    The hypocrisy of this organization stuns me. In response to the last comment, I do believe that it’s possible, and necessary, for 21st Century Fox to align its approach on climate change. Refuting climate change based on scientific evidence is one thing. Refuting it based on false facts and obfuscations is worse, and doing this as a news agency that reaches, and shapes the opinions of, millions of viewers is inexcusable. I am glad that the private sector is finally taking concrete action to combat climate change. I don’t think it matters that motivations are profit-driven, and not exactly altruistic. However, a company that recognizes the reality of climate change and only chooses to act if it is profitable, like 21st Century Fox seems to be, certainly doesn’t deserve any accolades.

  4. Overall, these initiatives seem fairly unimpressive compared to the initiatives of most other companies. Do you think 21st Century Fox is just pursuing these initiatives to “check the box” or do they truly believe in these initiatives?

    After years of Fox News ardently supporting climate change deniers like Trump, it seems like a fitting punishment for their viewership to be split in two when Trump inevitably starts his own competing conservative-leaning media business.

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