Sky stopped broadcasting Fox News in Britain today (Aug. 29) after low audience figures meant that it didn’t make enough money to be commercially viable.
After 15 years on the air in the UK, the Rupert Murdoch-owned 21st Century Fox decided to pull the right-wing US news channel off Sky as of 4 pm local time. “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 21st Century Fox in a statement. “We have concluded that it is not in our commercial interest to continue providing Fox News in the UK.”
A Sky spokesperson responded to Quartz with a simple statement: “21st Century Fox has decided they will no longer broadcast Fox News in the UK. Sky’s customers can still enjoy a wide range of dedicated national and international news channels.”
Amid speculation over whether this decision is related to Fox’s $15.1-billion takeover bid for the remaining 61% stake it doesn’t own in Sky, sources told The Guardian and BBC that it had nothing to do with the potential deal. The takeover bid has come under fire for potentially giving Murdoch too much control over UK media. If the deal goes ahead, 21st Century Fox will have access to Sky’s 22 million customers in Europe. Britain’s media watchdog Ofcom filed a report to the UK government last week about how the merger affects competition.
Fox News, however, has been a headache for the Murdochs in Britain for quite some time. Britain’s media regulator has given Fox a total of 22 breaches of Ofcom’s codes and rules over the past 10 years. Seven of those breaches were related to the program Justice with Judge Jeanine that featured a guest who claimed Birmingham was a city “where non-Muslims just simply don’t go”: