Let­ter shows con­cern over Fox stan­dards

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Gra­ham Rud­dick

The lack of com­pli­ance pro­ce­dures for Fox News was a se­ri­ous fail­ure, the gov­ern­ment has told 21st Cen­tury Fox in a strongly-worded let­ter that out­lines the rea­sons why the Mur­dochs face a ma­jor in­ves­ti­ga­tion into their track record as me­dia own­ers.

The fail­ure calls into ques­tion the Mur­dochs’ com­mit­ment to broad­cast­ing stan­dards and po­ten­tially sug­gests that com­pli­ance is­sues at Fox are only dealt with af­ter be­ing iden­ti­fied ex­ter­nally, the gov­ern­ment adds.

The let­ter from the De­part­ment for Dig­i­tal, Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport to Fox and Sky ex­plains why Karen Bradley, the cul­ture sec­re­tary, will re­fer Fox’s pro­posed takeover of Sky for a six-month inquiry on the grounds of me­dia plu­ral­ity and com­mit­ment to broad­cast­ing stan­dards. It goes into more de­tail than Bradley’s state­ment to par­lia­ment on Tues­day.

Fox News was pulled from Sky in the UK last month by Fox for “com­mer­cial rea­sons”, but this will have “lit­tle, if any, im­pact” on Bradley’s con­cerns, the let­ter adds. Bradley could talk fur­ther about the deal to­day when she ad­dresses the Royal Tele­vi­sion So­ci­ety con­ven­tion in Cam­bridge.

James Mur­doch will also ad­dress the event, of­fer­ing him the op­por­tu­nity to re­spond to Bradley’s com­ments.

Bradley sur­prised MPs by an­nounc­ing the £11.7bn deal faced a broad­cast­ing stan­dards inquiry by the Com­pe­ti­tion and Mar­kets Author­ity. The min­is­ter ef­fec­tively over­ruled Of­com, the me­dia reg­u­la­tor, which had said that the ev­i­dence avail­able did not jus­tify a broad­cast­ing stan­dards in­ves­ti­ga­tion and that Fox and Sky had a record of com­pli­ance in line with other ma­jor broadcasters. be­fore Bradley makes her fi­nal de­ci­sion.

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