“National Geographic has hardly been immune to these market forces, and its previously successful business model has been at risk”. The channel, which is available in 86 million homes in the United States and in 171 countries, is the largest and most lucrative asset that the society owns. This also means that a non-profit since 1888, National Geographic will become a for-profit enterprise.
21st Century Fox is paying $725 million to the National Geographic Society for the deal, meaning the non-profit will be sitting on an endowment of nearly $1 billion once the transaction is completed.
National Geographic originally partnered with Fox in 1997 to launch the National Geographic Channel. Those assets, according to a statement, include “National Geographic magazines; National Geographic Studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities, including travel, location-based entertainment, archival sales, catalog, licensing and ecommerce businesses”.
But the allure of Murdoch’s cash has proven too attractive for National Geographic to pass. On Wednesday, the National Geographic Society announced their deal with Murdoch. Knell would be the first board chairman of the brand new enterprise. The magazine reached it peak in the 1980s with about 12 million copies in domestic circulation; today the subscriber rate is about 3.5 million, almost 75 percent less than that of 30 years ago.
Over at The Toast, Mallory Ortberg has predicted future cover stories we might see in the magazine now that Rupert Murdoch owns it. Our favorites?
In April 2014, the Union of Concerned Scientists published a study which said 72% of Fox’s climate change coverage was “misleading most of the time”.
Magazine staffers have been wary about the partnership because of the apparently competing mindset of the staffers and new stakeholders, The Washington Post reported. “I don’t think that they would be investing in this brand if it weren’t to keep the quality of what National Geographic stands for”, Knell said. Things are happening. How much of it are we doing, with emissions and so on?
IFL Science editor Elise Andrews wrote in a blog post that fears of politics influencing science are unfounded, pointing to Neil Degrasse Tyson’s show “Cosmos”, which Fox funded and aired, as well as the television partnership under which she said the society retained its editorial integrity. “People who care about the planet, boycott #Murdoch”.
This partnership will expand upon the 18-year partnership already established between the two companies.