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Fox News found to be in breach of OfCom[1] rules multiple times during the 15 years doing business in the UK. Rules such as impartiality or better known as objective, and bias free reporting. Ofcom investigated claims against Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson. Carlson even accused then Prime Minister Theresa May of “doing nothing to counter terrorism; stop radicalization; protect citizens from terrorism; or protect ‘thousands of underage girls’ from rape and abuse”.

Hannity and Carlson regularly reinforced guest opinions ignoring professional integrity. They did not upload standards of journalistic credibility and a code of ethics centered on public trust, truthfulness, fairness, integrity, independence, and accountability. The key elements of Journalism are:

  1. Truth
  2. Loyalty (to all citizens – credibility being the foundation for success).
  3. Verification (methods must be objective seeking multiple independent corroborating sources).
  4. Independence (no devotion to a certain group or outcome, political partnership, overt religious affiliation)
  5. Watchdog (keeping an eye on people, politicians, corporations, and social institutions)
  6. Forum (provide a place for public feedback and discussion – Encourage opposition and criticism)
  7. Significance (make the important interesting and relevant to the public – Balance what the audience wants with what it needs)
  8. Inclusive (keep the news comprehensive and proportional – respect diversity including everyone)
  9. Ethics and Responsibility (practitioners exercise their personal conscience)
  10. Citizens (have rights and responsibilities – citizens should act with journalistic integrity online and in person – citizens need to be media literate)

Karen Bradley, then UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport was about to open an investigation into Rupert Murdoch’s’ adherence to broadcasting standards in the UK. This was after FOX News delivered biased and one-sided reporting after terrorist actions in the UK.

FOX News’ ended with a maximum of 2,000 UK viewers daily.

FOX was aware of the investigations against it by Ofcom. In fact, findings released after Fox left the UK included breach of Rules 5.9, 5.11 and 5.12 of the Ofcom Code). Fox understood the likelihood of their being removed from UK broadcasting. We assess that Fox took pre-emptive steps to remove itself from the UK instead of suffering added public embarrassment, reputational issues, and forced removal from UK broadcasting. Rupert Murdoch understood that the UK Government would not approve his acquisition of Sky Broadcasting Ltd. The Murdoch’s understood that Fox was:

  1. On the way to removal by Ofcom.
  2. Viewership was extremely poor and dropping.
  3. Commercially, they were bidding on buying Sky Broadcasting and did not want to create more negative reasons UK authorities could use to scuttle the acquisition, although they were highly likely aware of the Ofcom findings prior to their public release.[2]

The Competition and Markets Authority investigated 21st Century Fox over the proposed £11.7 billion takeover of Sky Plc using the Ofcom report of Fox. The outcome included a lack of media compliance to Ofcom rules. The UK Government must assess the threshold for deciding that a person is unfit and proper to hold its broadcast licenses. The impact on audiences and on the broadcaster if the Ofcom revokes licenses; and because freedom of expression is so important. Ofcom decided that should 21st Century Fox buy Sky Broadcasting Ltd:

  • Sky would not remain fit and proper
  • Sky would pose a significant risk of harm to audiences
  • Sky lacked respect for – or ability to follow – the regulatory regime likely undermining the regime or
  • Sky would damage public confidence in the regulated activity (of the UK)

Finding a broadcaster unfit and improper would mean the immediate revocation of their broadcasting license. Fox News did not put in place regulatory compliance procedures; that is a serious weakness, only recently rectified. Allegations of sexual and racial harassment at Fox News are extremely serious and disturbing. The US courts are considering the veracity of the claims. As the broadcast regulator it is not our role to investigate the accuracy of the claims. Nor do we believe it is necessary to the effective exercise of our fit and proper duty. Fox handled some allegations swiftly. But Fox was slower to deal with Bill O’Reilly, its star anchor. To have a concern about fitness and properness we would need to see evidence of misconduct in the parent company Fox. However, we have no clear evidence that senior executives at Fox were aware of misconduct before it was escalated to them. And senior executives put in place new corporate governance arrangements.

Fox has breached standards in Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, India, Indonesia, Italy, Netherlands, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey.

In summary the behaviours alleged at Fox News amount to significant corporate failure, however the overall evidence available to date does not provide a reasonable basis to conclude that if Sky were 100% owned and controlled by Fox, it would be unfit and proper to hold broadcast licenses.

Read the Ofcom decision-fox-sky-september-2017

[1] Ofcom is the regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. It regulates the TV and radio sectors, fixed line telecoms, mobiles, postal services, plus the airwaves over which wireless devices operate. https://www.ofcom.org.uk/

[2] Fox stopped broadcasting in the UK – August 29, 2017. Ofcom released the report September 11, 2017.

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Treadstone 71

@Treadstone71LLC Cyber intelligence, counterintelligence, Influence Operations, Cyber Operations, OSINT, Clandestine Cyber HUMINT, cyber intel and OSINT training and analysis, cyber psyops, strategic intelligence, Open-Source Intelligence collection, analytic writing, structured analytic techniques, Target Adversary Research, cyber counterintelligence, strategic intelligence analysis, estimative intelligence, forecasting intelligence, warning intelligence, threat intelligence
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