×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fox News Scandals, Political Influence Concerns Cast Long Shadow Over Sky Review

The fallout from the sexual harassment scandals that rocked Fox News was probed in detail by U.K. regulators in their consideration of 21st Century Fox’s $15 billion takeover bid for European satcaster Sky. But ultimately it was concerns about the concentration of the Murdochs’ control of media assets influencing “the U.K. news agenda and the political process” that led regulators to refer the deal for further review by government officials.

The lengthy report from U.K. regulator Ofcom illustrates the depth of its review of the circumstances at Fox News in considered whether 21st Century Fox would be a “fit and proper” steward of Sky. The report concludes that there was no indication that such conduct would be tolerated if Fox took over Sky. But it also makes clear that 21st Century Fox executives were grilled by Ofcom officials about the scandals involving former star anchor Bill O’Reilly on April 18, the day before O’Reilly’s departure was hastily announced.

“We have concluded that 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, they would not be fit and proper to hold broadcast licences,” Ofcom wrote.

Ofcom also reviewed the impact of the 2011-2012 phone-hacking scandal at U.K. newspapers controlled by the Murdoch family. That led to the separation of Murdoch’s empire into the media and entertainment-focused 21st Century Fox and publishing-centric News Corp.

“No concerns have been raised about the corporate culture of Sky. We cannot conclude, therefore, that Sky would fail to tackle effectively issues of misconduct, if 100% owned by Fox. We find that Sky would remain fit and proper in the event of the merger. Fitness and properness is an ongoing duty and we can re-examine our position if new evidence comes to light,” Ofcom wrote.

Regarding Fox News, Ofcom pursued a “what did they know and when did they know it” line of inquiry with Fox brass. The report concludes that Rupert Murdoch and other 21st Century Fox directors were unaware of the misconduct that led to the ouster of Fox News founder Roger Ailes in July 2016. “On that basis, their failure to act cannot be held against them,” Ofcom wrote.

Moreover, the report makes it clear that 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch and chairman Lachlan Murdoch were forced to answer to Ofcom for the drama at Fox News.

“James and Lachlan Murdoch personally put to us that no individual working for Fox News could now be under the impression that sexual harassment is acceptable, having seen the sacking of Mr Ailes, Mr O’Reilly and a number of other employees including very senior managers,” Ofcom wrote.

More TV

  • Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna'Jane

    Rachel Bloom on the 'Beautiful Mystery' of the 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' Series Finale

    While four seasons of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” has explored musical genres from boy bands to country, the one type of music series co-creator and star Rachel Bloom admits the show will not explore before the end is Rebecca’s own style. “Basically the idea is that part of the music in her mind is her looking inside [...]

  • Netflix's Lisa Nishimura Named Indie Film,

    Netflix's Lisa Nishimura Named Indie Film, Documentary Features Head

    In the wake of Bela Bajaria’s recent move to lead Netflix’s international non-English original TV series, the online streamer is shuffling its leadership team to more clearly distinguish between development of its English and non-English language content. As a result, Netflix has elevated Lisa Nishimura to vice president of independent film and documentary features, a [...]

  • Family Guy Bob's Burgers

    Fox Entertainment Lays Out Programming Slate in Post-Disney Merger Sizzle Reel (Watch)

    Fox Entertainment unveiled a new sizzle reel on Wednesday night in the wake of the Disney-21st Century Fox merger officially closing, with the broadcaster touting its current series roster. The video features both scripted and unscripted programming across Fox’s lineup. Among the shows featured are legacy series like “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” and “Empire.” In [...]

  • Katherine Heigl

    Katherine Heigl Cast as Lead in CBS Comedy Pilot

    Katherine Heigl has been cast as the female lead in the CBS comedy pilot “Our House,” Variety has learned. The show centers around a devoted mom (Heigl) and dad, who are committed to raising their children with the love and support the mom never got as a kid, but discover how difficult that is with her insane [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Lee Daniels

    Lee Daniels Reveals the 'Empire' Team's 'Anger' and 'Sadness' at the Jussie Smollett Fallout

    In a video posted to his Instagram Wednesday afternoon, “Empire” creator Lee Daniels has let everybody know how he feels about the Jussie Smollett “incident.” “These past couple of weeks have been a freakin’ rollercoaster,” Daniels said in the video. “Me and my cast have experienced pain, anger, sadness and frustration, and really don’t know [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    WGA Leaders to Meet With Showrunners on Agency Packaging Fight (EXCLUSIVE)

    WGA leaders are set to meet Wednesday night with a group of showrunners who are raising concerns about the guild’s handling of negotiations with talent agents over the issue of packaging fees and agency-affiliated productions. The meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. at WGA West headquarters. WGA West president David Goodman is expected to attend. [...]

  • 'This Is Us' Composer Siddhartha Khosla

    'This Is Us' Composer Siddhartha Khosla Signs With ASCAP

    Siddhartha Khosla, one of the busiest composers in TV with ongoing assignments for “This Is Us,” “The Kids Are Alright” and “Marvel’s Runaways,” has made the move to ASCAP, the performing-rights organization announced Wednesday. For all of his steady television gigs, “This is Us” remains by far the most prominent, partly because he provides prominent [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content