Media mogul Rupert Murdoch elevated his two sons, Lachlan and James, to senior roles within 21st Century Fox Inc., FOXA -1.35% signaling both are likely to play a role in the long-term future of the Murdoch family-controlled entertainment company.
21st Century Fox named Lachlan Murdoch, 42 years old, as nonexecutive co-chairman, alongside his father, who is chairman and chief executive.
The company simultaneously promoted James Murdoch, 41, to be co-chief operating officer, alongside current COO and president Chase Carey. James Murdoch, who was previously deputy COO and chairman and CEO, International, will continue to report to Mr. Carey.
Lachlan Murdoch on Wednesday also was named nonexecutive co-chairman at News Corp, NWSA -1.90% the print media concern that separated from 21st Century Fox last June and retained the old name of the original conglomerate. News Corp owns The Wall Street Journal.
The appointments come a couple of weeks after the elder Mr. Murdoch turned 83. Mr. Murdoch and his family have effective control of both News Corp and 21st Century Fox, through voting stakes of 39.4% in each company.
The appointments return Lachlan Murdoch to a more formal role at the family's business empire nine years after he quit his executive role at News Corp. and relocated to Sydney, Australia. But the near term practical significance may be greater for his brother James, reinforcing his operational role within 21st Century Fox.
21st Century Fox said Fox Networks Group, which includes Fox broadcast network, FX and Fox Sports, would now report to James Murdoch. He will also have "direct responsibility" for the development of 21st Century Fox's interests in "the pay-television Sky and Star services in Europe and Asia," the company said.
In recent years James Murdoch came under criticism, including from the U.K. communications regulator, for his handling of phone-hacking allegations at News Corp's U.K. newspaper unit, where he was executive chairman. While James and his father faced questioning by a U.K. parliamentary committee, neither has been accused of any wrongdoing.
A spokesperson for 21st Century Fox, speaking on behalf of James Murdoch, declined to comment.
The day-to-day impact of Lachlan Murdoch's appointment is less clear. He was already a director of both 21st Century Fox and News Corp.
21st Century Fox said he would split his time between Sydney and New York.
The appointment suggests he will be more engaged with the Murdoch family's business empire, which encompasses television networks, a film studio, cable channels and newspapers around the world.
21st Century Fox said Lachlan Murdoch "will work closely with senior management and the rest of the 21st Century Fox board in developing global strategies and guiding the overall corporate agenda."
Under Australian regulations, Lachlan Murdoch was required to step down from the board of Australian broadcaster Ten Network Holdings Ltd. TEN.AU -1.85% to become nonexecutive co-chairman at News Corp and 21st Century Fox, according to a person familiar with the matter. He owns about 9% of Ten Network.
21st Century Fox is in the process of negotiating the renewal of Mr. Carey's contract, which expires this June. A spokesperson for 21st Century Fox said the company was "confident" the new contract "will be completed shortly."
Mr. Carey wasn't available for comment on the contract talks.