21st Century Fox Pulls News Channel From UK
Fox News might dominate its rivals in the United States, but the channel has fared so poorly in the U.K. that 21st Century Fox has decided to pull it from broadcast.
“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,” said a statement from the company.
“We have concluded that it is not in our commercial interest to continue providing Fox News in the UK.”
Fox is the top rated U.S. cable news network, but in the U.K. where it broadcasts via the Sky satellite platform, the American network got little play.
Speculation is ripe that beyond the fact that the network was a money-loser for Sky, dropping Fox from broadcast will lessen some of the objections the company has faced over its planned takeover of Sky.
“There is no doubt that the decision was influenced by the pending U.K. regulatory review of Fox’s $15 billion takeover of Sky,” wrote the television editor at Variety.
The conservative bent of Fox News, which has cemented its popularity in the United States, was fodder for critics of the takeover. They alleged the channel’s opinion programming showed bias.
Fox never tailored its feed for the U.K., broadcasting the same content to a pan-European audience.
21st Century Fox is currently in a holding pattern as it awaits regulator approval to up its stake in Sky, which is the top pay-TV broadcaster in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the UK, from its current 39 percent to buy out the rest of the shares for $15 billion.
The European Commission has already approved the deal, noting that Fox and Sky are active in different market in Europe and so there would be little change in competition.
But due to the nature of the European Union—of which the U.K. remains a member despite beginning the legal process to withdraw—member states can block mergers at a national level.
This isn’t the first time Fox has tried to take over Sky. The first attempt came in 2010 amidst revelations that Fox-owned newspapers were hacking the telephones of public figures, including celebrities, politicians, and the royal family, for news scoops.
Public outcry over the scandal killed the deal and Fox spun the newspapers into a separate company as a result.
While the decision to pull Fox from the UK was met with a shrug by most and celebrated by a few, there were those that said they would miss the channel.