Brit TV org: Fox News plays fair

Commission rules net didn't break impartiality code

LONDON — Fox News, the U.S. cabler lambasted for its “cheerleading” coverage of the Iraq war, has been cleared of bias by Blighty’s most powerful media regulator.

The Independent Television Commission ruled Tuesday that Fox’s broadcasts, available on cable and satellite in the U.K., did not break its code on impartiality. The ITC received 81 complaints of bias by viewers during the war, nine against Fox.

“Our own monitoring of Fox News suggests that a range of opinions are heard on the station,” ruled the ITC. It added that “due impartiality” should be interpreted “meaning adequate or appropriate. It does not mean that the broadcasters have to be absolutely neutral on every controversial view.”

Greg Dyke, the BBC director general, complained recently that Fox had offered viewers “gung-ho” patriotism.

This view was echoed earlier this week by new Dyke lieutenant, director of factual John Willis, who argued that the White House effectively controlled TV war coverage.

The ITC said that Fox and Arab net Al Jazeera were both broadcasting within the rules. “The ITC is alert to the debate about the nature of re-transmitted foreign news channels, including Arabic services we license. It raises important questions which need to be considered in the context of global trans-frontier broadcasting and we are doing just that.”