29/08/2017 20:07 BST | Updated 30/08/2017 08:30 BST

Rupert Murdoch-Owned Sky Makes Snap Decision To Take Fox News Off Air In UK

Sky claims few were watching but Labour heaps criticism on the move as Fox takeover bid looms

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson has poured scorn on Sky’s snap decision to take Fox News off air in the UK. 

21st Century Fox, owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, said the channel was being withdrawn as it was not commercially viable and that the decision was not related to Fox’s takeover bid for Sky.

But Shadow Culture Secretary Watson heaped criticism on the move, saying Fox “clearly thought it was easier to pull it from the UK altogether than to clean up its act.” 

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Campaigners from Avaaz dressed as Prime Minister Theresa May and Rupert Murdoch take part in a demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament

Fox News claimed the UK channel had about 2,000 average daily viewers, and that the costs of broadcasting the US network in the UK meant it was not in 21st Century Fox’s interests to continue.

But, figures from the Broadcaster’s Audience Research Board (BARB) suggest that Fox News’ average UK daily viewing figures were nearly 60,000 per day.

Culture secretary Karen Bradley has previously said she may refer the bid to competition regulators.

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Rupert Murdoch accompanied by his sons James (right) and Lachlan (left) 

Sky stopped broadcasting the US television network in the UK from 4pm on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman said: “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.”

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Shadow culture secretary and deputy Labour leader Tom Watson

The company source has told reporters complaints against Fox News in relation to the takeover bid were not the reason for the TV network being dropped. 

In December, 21st Century Fox offered £11.7bn for the 61% stake in Sky it does not already own.

Critics of the merger, which gives 21st Century Fox access to Sky’s 22 million customers in Europe, say Rupert Murdoch will have too much control of the UK media. 

Watson said: “Fox News has breached Ofcom’s rules over and over again, so 21st Century Fox clearly thought it was easier to pull it from the UK altogether than to clean up its act.

“But the ongoing corporate governance and sexual harassment scandal at Fox News is still deeply relevant to the question of whether 21st Century Fox should be allowed to take over Sky, whether the channel is broadcast here or not.”