Fox Corporation shares slump on speculation Donald Trump is planning rival news network

The company's news channel is currently the most watched in the US and a major money maker for owner Rupert Murdoch

Chris Wallace, Fox News anchor, is displayed on a monitor during an election night party in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. Donald Trump falsely declared early Wednesday he had won re-election against Joe Biden and said he would ask the Supreme Court to intervene, even as several battleground states continue to count votes.

Fox Corporation shares tumbled with speculation ramping up that President Donald Trump might back or launch a rival news service after he leaves office.

On Thursday, an Axios report citing unidentified sources that Mr Trump is planning a subscription-based streaming platform similar to Fox Nation, a $6-a-month service launched two years ago.

Fox shares declined from the start of trading, and the drop deepened after Mr Trump amplified a series of Twitter posts from users criticising Fox News as insufficiently loyal to the president and urging conservatives to switch to rivals such as Newsmax.

In a tweet of his own after the retweets, Mr Trump said Fox’s daytime ratings have “completely collapsed” because the network “forgot what made them successful, what got them there”.

Fox News was the biggest difference between the 2016 and 2020 elections because the network forgot its “Golden Goose”, Mr Trump said in the tweet.

Mr Trump’s targeting of Fox’s daytime ratings appeared purposeful. The channel’s programs during the day feature conservative perspectives but play the news relatively straight, while its prime-time opinion shows star full-throated defenders of the president such as Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham.

The president’s relationship with the most-watched news channel in America has waxed and waned over the years. Mr Trump was a frequent guest on Fox News long before he decided to run for president, and the Fox News evening commentators have been ardent supporters of him throughout his time in office. Mr Trump recommend on Twitter that viewers watch Hannity Wednesday.

Fox News, the biggest moneymaker for media mogul Rupert Murdoch, made early calls on election night that incensed the president, such as declaring Arizona for Democratic nominee Joe Biden. One of Mr Trump’s political advisers, Jason Miller, tweeted that night that the network was trying to “invalidate” the election, and Mr Trump continued his attacks in a fundraising email sent later.

Fox Corporation shares fell 6 per cent to $25.82 as of 12.15pm in New York on Thursday. The company was scheduled to hold its annual meeting later in the day in Los Angeles.

On an earnings call last week, Fox Corporation chief executive Lachlan Murdoch said the network has been number one  in cable news for 18 years, through a number of administrations.

“We love competition,” Lachlan Murdoch said. “We have always thrived with competition, and we have strong competition now.”