Fox News Bias Claims Prompt UK Probe

12 May 2003

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News channel is under investigation by British television regulators over accusations of bias.

Fox controversially took a belligerently pro-Bush stance during the recent war in Iraq – a successful approach in the US where it overtook CNN as the leading news provider.

Such flag-waving, however, has not gone down as well in Britain, where the network is carried on Murdoch’s Sky Digital satellite platform. After nine complaints from viewers about bias on the channel, the Independent Television Commission has launched a probe.

The ITC is specifically investigating whether Fox has breached section three of its programming code, which states that channels must ensure “due impartiality is preserved on the part of the person providing the service as respects matters of political or industrial controversy or relating to current public policy.” Such impartiality must be shown over time, as opposed to during a single show.

The watchdog has authority over Fox because the channel’s European base is in London, and under European Union law any channel broadcasting in the EU must be subject to the regulators of an EU state.

If Fox is found guilty, it could be forcibly removed from the Sky platform. In 1999, the ITC revoked the licence of Kurdish channel Med TV for bias.

However, tangling with a small Kurdish station is a different matter from risking Murdoch’s wrath. The ITC is said to be concerned about battling the media mogul, and insiders have played down the investigation as no more than the standard treatment of complaints.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff