By David Vandygriff
Sky will stop broadcasting Rupert Murdoch's right-wing US channel Fox News in the UK after 15 years because it is no longer seen as commercially viable.
His US media group, 21st Century Fox, announced it would withdraw the controversial news channel from Sky packages on Tuesday but insisted that the decision has nothing to do with a potential investigation into the firm's bid to take over the remaining shares of bSkyb – Sky's parent company.
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley is to due announce her decision on whether to ask the competition regulator to launch an investigation into whether Mr. Murdoch's channels had adhered to the UK's strict broadcasting standards as part of a wider probe into the £11.7bn takeover bid.
A spokeswoman for 21st Century Fox told the Guardian: “[Fox] has decided to cease providing a feed of Fox News Channel in the UK.
“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. We have concluded that it is not in our commercial interest to continue providing Fox News in the UK.”
But the channel has landed its parent company in hot water on several occasions in the past year when the broadcasters' regulator, Ofcom, made a series of rulings against it.
Unlike newspapers, broadcasters are expected to maintain strict impartiality and can be fined if they knowingly disseminate misleading information.
In the 10 years Fox has fallen foul of the regulator 22 times for breaches of its license and the Ofcom code, seven of those were for breaches by Fox News.
Mostly notable it was heavily criticized by Ofcom for an interview with a US guest in January 2015 where he claimed Birmingham was a city "where non-Muslims just simply don't go".
Ofcom said the broadcast was "materially misleading and had the potential to cause harm and offence to viewers" at a time of heightened tensions – the interview took place days after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris.
Ofcom has already ruled that it has "no broadcasting standards concerns" about the Fox takeover of Sky but did say there could be grounds to refer it to the Competition and Markets Authority.
Sky is currently 39 per cent controlled by Fox. A previous takeover bid was scuppered in 2011 following the revelations that the Murdoch-owned newspaper News of the World had hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.