National Geographic Magazine Turns For-Profit in $725M Deal with Fox


September 9, 2015; Washington Post

The National Geographic Magazine is, at 127 years old, one of the oldest and most successful nonprofit publications around. Or at least it was until yesterday, when Fox bought a 73 percent share in all of the National Geographic Society’s media for $725 million.

National Geographic has partnered with Fox for 18 years on the National Geographic Channel, which became the society’s largest and most lucrative asset. The new partnership will also take over the book and map publishing division, a catalog operation, and a travel agency.

All of those products are moving under the umbrella of a new entity, National Geographic Partners, in which the society will retain a 27 percent share. The Society’s endowment will grow to more than $1 billion with the sale, but it loses a controlling position, although an equal number of board seats will go to each organization. The former chief media officer of NGS will become CEO of National Geographic Partners.

This means, of course, that Rupert Murdoch, who also owns the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and Fox News Channel, now essentially owns National Geographic. (Murdoch, let’s not forget, is a notorious denier of anthropogenic climate change, which could have an impact on the respected pro-science publication.)

Gary Knell, chief executive of the National Geographic Society, said in an interview yesterday, “It gives us the opportunity to connect around the world with an integrated media strategy” and that it would allow them to take advantage of more opportunities.

James Murdoch, the CEO of 21st Century Fox, says he believes that National Geographic is “a very healthy brand” and that there are no plans to change the magazine.—Ruth McCambridge

  • Harvey Newman

    With a for profit organization purchasing 73% of the National Geographic Society, a not for profit organization, what happens to the tax status and the endowment. Does Fox who now holds the majority share control the endowment?

    • ruth

      Sorry if that was not clear – all of the media has been moved to a third organization which is a Fox/National Geographic Society partnership. The endowment stays at the society which remains a nonprofit and goes into its endowment. The society now owns only 27% of the media group while Fox owns the rest

  • mememine

    Is this how you want your children remembering you?

    The last 34 years of debate, delay, denial and climate action failure and global disbelief means any climate blame “believer’s” opinion now won’t change anything. No matter how much you hissy fit hate conservatives and fear monger our children.

    It’s over;
    Occupywallstreet now does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by politicians.!