Letter shows concern over Fox standards
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.