Fake News? Two Fox News Shows Broke UK Bias Rules, Regulator Finds

Fox News rapped by Ofcom for impartiality failures

As Fox waits to find out whether it will be allowed to complete its merger with broadcasting giant Sky, UK media regulator Ofcom today delivered a fresh blow to proceedings.

Media regulator Ofcom found that the shows, Hannity and Tucker Carlson Tonight, had breached several rules of the British Broadcasting Code related to representing alternative viewpoints and being impartial on major political matters, The Guardian reported.

Even though Fox News ceased to broadcast in the United Kingdom on 29 August 2017 - it was pulled from the grid of Sky TV after the pay-TV firm said the channel was no longer a viable commercial option in the United Kingdom - and from 1 November 2017 has no longer been no longer a licensed television service falling under its jurisdiction, Ofcom decided that publication of its short-form decision regarding standards breaches was appropriate to ensure there was a complete compliance record and to facilitate public understanding of its Broadcasting Code.

But it's an uncomfortable turn of events for Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, Fox News' parent company, as it tries to gain control of the 61 percent of broadcaster Sky that it does not already own, a deal valued at $15.3 billion. Though it's no longer under an Ofcom license, the regulatory agency said it is publishing a short form decision in order to comply with the "compliance record" and "to facilitate public understanding of the Code".

On one occasion cited by the watchdog, it was suggested on Tucker Carlson Tonight shortly after the bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Arena, which left 23 dead, that the British government was not doing enough to prevent radicalization.

Ofcom said Hannity's opening monologue on January 31 about Trump's executive order did not appropriately consider alternative viewpoints. Although viewers might expect Hannity to come from a perspective more supportive of the Republican party, critical views were repeatedly dismissed or ridiculed by the presenter in his opening monologue, and the remainder of the programme featured guests who were all prominent supporters of the Trump administration.

They also reviewed a complaint about Hannity's pro-travel ban coverage from January 31.

Ofcom said Carlson didn't show the point-of-view of anyone being criticized and "did not challenge the views of his contributors; instead, he reinforced their views". The presenter consistently voiced his enthusiastic support for the Order and the Trump Administration.

"There was no reflection of the views of the U.K. Government or any of the authorities or people criticised, which we would have expected given the nature and amount of criticism of them in the program", Ofcom said.

Both shows violated the same three rules on representation of alternative views, impartiality, and inclusion of significant views, said Ofcom. They were accused of not acting to "counter terrorism, stop radicalisation, protect citizens from terrorism or protect "thousands of underage girls' from rape and abuse".

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