News Corp. Plans to Call Entertainment Spinoff 21st Century Fox

News Corp.’s entertainment business, due to be spun off from the rest of the company in the next few months, will go by the name 21st Century Fox, giving a modern-day twist to the company’s 78-year-old film-studio brand.

News Corp. announced the plan in a statement yesterday, reversing a previous decision to call the business Fox Group. Billionaire Rupert Murdoch, the founder of News Corp., will become chairman and chief executive officer of the new company, which will include film and television units.

Murdoch, who began his media empire more than a half-century ago with newspapers, gave in to shareholder pressure last year to separate the declining publishing division from his more profitable television and film businesses. The entertainment spinoff will include cable and broadcast networks, as well as the Twentieth Century Fox studio, which will retain its existing name.

“21st Century Fox is a name that draws upon the rich creative heritage of Twentieth Century Fox, while also speaking to the innovation and dynamism that must define each of our businesses through the 21st century,” Murdoch wrote in a note to employees yesterday. “Our new name is inspired by the very first company we acquired nearly 30 years ago as our initial foray into the awe-inspiring world of entertainment.”

The movie studio was formed from the merger of Fox Film Corp. and Twentieth Century Pictures in 1935. Murdoch acquired control of the company in 1985, the same year he became a U.S. citizen and bought six TV stations to lay the foundation for his TV network.

At the dawn of the 21st century, Twentieth Century Fox opted to keep its name -- even as companies such as 20th Century Insurance Co. and Gateway 2000 updated their monikers. The Doors also brought fame to the Twentieth Century Fox name by releasing a song by that title in 1967.

The publishing side of News Corp., which includes the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, will retain that name.