In a surprising, yet not-so-surprising chain of events, Sky has decided to stop broadcasting Fox News in the United Kingdom after 15 years on air. It is surprising because 21st Century Fox is the channel’s parent company, and Rupert Murdoch is the founder. It’s not surprising because the structure of Fox News is designed for a U.S. audience, so its translation to British television was not ideal.
Representatives from 21st Century Fox revealed that Fox News was only pulling in a few thousand viewers per day in the U.K. As a result, it was not in the company’s commercial interest to continue broadcasting a Fox News feed overseas. On the contrary, the Broadcaster’s Audience Research Board (Barb) released figures that suggest the viewership was closer to 60,000 daily viewers. Nevertheless, the cost of distributing the U.S. channel in Great Britain outweighs the results it generates.
Murdoch and 21st Century Fox currently own a 39% stake in Sky; however, they did offer to purchase the remaining 61% for an estimated 11.7 billion euros in December 2016. Although sources told BBC that the cancellation of Fox News had nothing to do with the potential merger, Murdoch’s bid for Sky has been under fire. Competitors believe that the sale would give Murdoch too much control over media in the U.K. It’s easy to see where they’re coming from, considering a controlling interest in Sky would give 21st Century Fox control over Sky’s 22 million customers in Europe. In fact, Great Britain’s media watchdog Ofcom filed a report with the U.K. government last week, highlighting how the potential merger would affect competition. A decision could come sooner than later, as U.K. culture secretary Karen Bradley is set to make a final decision on whether have Britain’s competition regulator launch an in-depth investigation into how Fox plans to use Sky.