While Fox News broadcasts in over 50 countries, its count has just gone down by two. As of August 29, Fox News has stopped being broadcast in the United Kingdom. And as of August 30, Ireland has also stopped carrying the network.
Sky, the number one pay TV provider in both countries, carried the network. (Sky also has operations in Germany, Austria and Italy; Fox News is still available in Italy.) Sky had been carrying Fox News for 15 years.
According to Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, the reason was low ratings. 21st Century Fox told CNN:
Fox News is focused on the U.S. market and designed for a U.S. audience and, accordingly, it averages only a few thousand viewers across the day in the U.K. We have concluded that it is not in our commercial interest to continue providing Fox News in the U.K.
While low ratings may indeed be the answer, the decision comes at a good time for 21st Century Fox. Fox has a £11.7 billion (about $15.1 billion) bid to take over Sky. Culture Secretary Karen Bradley will soon decide whether or not to launch an investigation into the proposed takeover. Such an investigation would focus on Fox’s adherence to broadcast standards in the U.K.
Fox News has shown to be a thorn in Fox’s side when it comes to this takeover attempt. The sexual harassment charges, plus the accusations of collusion with Trump have threatened to quash the deal.
Ofcom controls media in the U.K., in a similar way to the FCC in America. The organization has censured Fox News a number of times in the past year. Ofcom reports a total of 22 breaches of conduct by Fox properties over the last decade; seven came from Fox News. Of those seven, four incidents were from the last year.
21st Century Fox owns 39% of Sky already. Ed Miliband, ex-Labour leader, said:
This decision shows the Murdochs panicking about their bid for Sky. It amounts to an admission that despite having broadcast here year after year, Fox News is not fit for UK broadcasting in the standards and ethics of its journalism. It’s yet more proof that [Rupert Murdoch and his sons, the owners of 21st Century Fox] can’t be trusted to own 100% of Sky.
Stopping broadcasting in the UK changes nothing. Fox News in the US is the Murdochs’ channel, they are responsible for its broadcasting standards and the appalling racial and sexual harassment that happened on their watch. The Murdochs can’t run from their record at Fox News.
Culture Secretary Bradley has yet to make her decision.
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