Rupert Murdoch’s News UK has backpedaled on plans to launch a Fox News-style U.K. news channel. Instead, the venture will be reimagined as a streaming offering.
News UK CEO Rebekah Brooks outlined the company’s content strategy in a staff memo, seen by Variety. The long-time Murdoch associate explained that “the costs of running a rolling news channel are considerable, and it is our assessment that the payback for our shareholders wouldn’t be sufficient. We need to launch the right products for the digital age.”
The executive made clear that plans for a channel were ruled out early in an 18-month-long exploration of the country’s TV market. Instead, the company is pivoting to “to provide live and on-demand video to streaming platforms, using our existing brands and our ability to tell stories and break news.”
“The talented team we have hired are also exploring new show formats and we have professionalized our in-house video capability, creating the ability to deliver broadcast-quality video output from reimagined studios in The News Building,” said Brooks.
Early plans for a News UK TV channel prompted extensive hand-wringing in the U.K., where there were fears that such a service would threaten the country’s internationally trusted reputation for news impartiality. Plans for the Discovery-backed GB News, which also promised “to disrupt the status quo,” and the prospect of two such offerings entering the landscape added further fuel to the fire.
In her memo, Brooks hinted at a growing pipeline of programs, including the previously announced entertainment news show “News to Me,” which will be stripped across the weekdays and hosted by Gordon Smart, a former journalist for Scotland’s version of tabloid The Sun. More are on the way, she assured.
“As we create new video shows and live stream visualized radio content, we will be providing the consumer with more choice, building on the brands we already have, attracting new audiences and driving new revenues into the business,” said Brooks.