Sunday 25 February 2018

Fox News pulled from UK airwaves as its broadcast 'is not in our commercial interest'

Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall attend the press preview of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday May 22, 2017. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall attend the press preview of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday May 22, 2017. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Kalyeena Makortoff

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox has decided to pull right-wing Fox News from UK airwaves.

The decision comes amid a Government review of the US company's planned £11.7bn takeover of the Sky, which could potentially face an in-depth investigation on competition concerns.

A spokeswoman for 21st Century Fox (21CF) said: "21CF has decided to cease providing a feed of Fox News Channel in the UK.

"Fox News is 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.

The US-focused channel - which was taken off air at 4pm on Tuesday - had around 2,000 daily viewers, while its broadcasting agreement with Sky was set to expire by year-end.

It is understood that a growing number of complaints had been lodged against Fox News in the UK, particularly in the wake of 21CF's bid for Sky.

Mr Murdoch's media business is hoping to acquire the 61pc of Sky it does not already own, raising concerns that this would mean handing the tycoon's family increased influence of the UK news agenda.

The Government earlier this month asked for further advice from Ofcom before Culture Secretary Karen Bradley decided whether the proposed tie-up should face an in-depth investigation.

That advice has since been submitted but has not yet been released to the public.

Ms Bradley said last month that she was "still minded" to refer the takeover tilt to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) following a report by Ofcom flagging "public interest concerns" surrounding media plurality.

But the Murdoch family have piled the pressure on the Secretary of State, saying her treatment of their bid for Sky will prove a test case for how far Britain is "open for business".

The takeover bid comes just years after Mr Murdoch's last attempt at taking over the business through News Corporation in 2011.

The tilt faced opposition from media industry rivals and politicians before it was scuppered by acute pressure on the company, brought about by phone-hacking claims involving News International.

Press Association

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