Sky is scrapping Fox News from its roster of channels, an announcement that comes amid a takeover bid of the broadcaster by the channel’s owner, 21st Century Fox. We explain it all.
Sky to stop broadcasting Fox News, and here’s why
The skinny of it is that Sky (a UK broadcaster) is going to stop airing Fox News (a US channel) in the UK.
According to the company, the channel is being culled on account of low audience figures, which means it’s no longer commercially viable to air Fox News in the UK.
A spokesperson for Sky said: “Fox News if focused on the US market and designed for a US audience and, accordingly, it averages only a few thousand viewers across the day in the UK. We have concluded that it is not in our commercial interest to continue providing Fox News in the UK.”
According to the Guardian, sources revealed that the channel attracts “only about 2,000 viewers a day in the UK”. That’s far lower than Sky News, which typically attracts around 15 million viewers per quarter.
The channel went offline at 4pm (BST) on Tuesday, August 29, 2017.
Is this anything to do with the Fox takeover bid?
While it’s easy to believe that low viewer figures are to blame for the jettisoning of Fox News, it may not be the only reason.
Media magnate Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox currently owns a 39.14% stake in Sky Plc, as well as owning Fox News in the USA. In December last year, Murdoch’s company offered £11.7 billion for the remaining 61% stake in Sky that it doesn’t already own.
The takeover bid has been widely criticised, suggesting that it would give Rupert Murdoch too much control over the UK media. After all, Murdoch also owns News UK, which currently publishes The Times, The Sunday Times, and the Sun.
Right now, the UK culture secretary Karen Bradley is readying her verdict on whether to ask the competition regulator to investigate the Murdoch’s obedience to UK broadcasting standards. This is part of a larger inquiry into 21st Century Fox’s takeover bid for Sky.
Fox News is becoming an increasingly annoying hurdle for the Murdoch family in their bid to own Sky entirely.
The right-wing news channel is highly controversial around the world, with scandals including a sexual harassment fiasco involving Fox News staff and accusations of collusion with US President Donald Trump. In the last decade, Fox News has been responsible for seven breaches of its licence and UK comms regulator Ofcom’s codes of conduct – four of which were last year.
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Is this good or bad news?
With Fox News out of the picture, it would seemingly give 21st Century Fox a better chance of taking over Sky. In a statement, former Labour leader – and consistent critic of the Murdochs – Ed Miliband 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 the Murdochs can’t be trusted to own 100% of Sky.”
He continued: “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.”
There’s been mixed reaction on Twitter, but when has that ever not been the case?
In the end, it’s not yet clear how this move will affect the Sky takeover bid. We’ll have to await the UK culture secretary’s verdict before we know any more about the case, but it’s hard to quantify exactly how something like this will make a difference. While some viewers may bemoan the decision to scrap Fox News however, it doesn’t seem as though many were even watching it in the first place.
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