The civic group Avaaz recently took steps to oppose efforts by 21st Century Fox to gain full control of Sky TV. The global organization had urged the United Kingdom’s Office of Communications to reconsider its decision to grant 21CF a clean bill of health to move forward with the controversial merger. Avaaz campaigners believe that Fox’s often biased and inaccurate news coverage would have a harmful influence on the UK’s media landscape.
Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate hopes to purchase the massive cable and satellite TV provider for $14.6 billion. Avaaz’s attorneys contacted the country’s media regulator Ofcom and condemned its recent ruling. They described this decision as unlawful and claimed that it was based on false information. Avaaz called upon Ofcom to fully review its fit and proper report of 21st Century Fox’s acquisition plans.
Avaaz lawyers declared that Ofcom had overlooked important evidence and interpreted the law in an “irrational” way. They criticized the government agency for believing questionable promises made by Murdoch’s executives. The letter noted that Fox had provided Ofcom with false information in the past. Avaaz intends to initiate legal action if regulators don’t reverse their decision.
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has asked the CMA to initiate a long-term investigation of the takeover bid. Officials would need to determine whether or not the merger gives Fox excessive dominance in the UK media market, and assess Fox’s broadcasting standards. This comprehensive probe would take approximately 6 months to complete.
Fit and Proper?
British law only permits corporations to hold broadcasting permits when Ofcom considers them to be “fit and proper.” If a judge accepts Avaaz’s request for Ofcom to reconsider their decision, Ofcom may scrutinize the conglomerate’s conduct more carefully. For instance, it might look at accusations regarding sexual harassment and racist behavior in the company’s offices. This process could reveal additional damaging facts.
While Ofcom remains solely responsible for evaluating a company’s propriety and fitness, the Competition and Markets Authority also holds considerable power. It can determine if a media corporation truly meets the nation’s broadcasting standards.
An Avaaz campaign director commented to the media about the pending merger. Bert Wander said that Ofcom had made a serious error by allowing the Murdoch family to gain greater control over British television. He urged regulators to promptly reverse their decision. Wander warned that Ofcom would lose all credibility if it permits Fox to acquire Sky TV.
Additionally, the civic movement asked the agency to reveal details on meetings involving Fox and Ofcom officials. It accused regulators of heavily relying upon information that the media conglomerate provided. Ofcom reacted by confirming that Avaaz’s letter had arrived, and it promised to answer the complaint. On the other hand, Fox refused to respond.
Sky TV Facts
The British Sky Broadcasting Group boasts more viewers than any other satellite or cable TV company in the U.K. Customers watch news, sports, motion pictures and other programming on approximately 400 channels. The company started serving customers in 1990 and gained 1.5 million subscribers in less than a year. It had 7 million viewers by 2003. Fox has owned one-third of Sky for many years.
Fox produces a wide variety of television shows, cartoons and movies. It runs multiple cable channels and 28 TV stations. The corporation serves customers across four continents. Fox’s media empire became increasingly controversial after it launched a right-wing news channel, Fox News. Opponents often accuse it of disseminating biased or sensationalized reports.
The Office of Communications regulates radio broadcasts, television, phone services, postal mail and two-way communications. It claims to promote competition and shield the public from unfair business practices. Media laws call for Ofcom to ensure that citizens have access to a variety of programs and broadcasters. The office is also responsible for policing the content of radio and TV shows.
This civic movement strives to help people transform the world in positive ways. It promotes eco-friendly policies and works to safeguard human rights. Millions of members sign petitions, join protests and donate money in support of worthy causes. During the last decade, the organization has successfully persuaded numerous major governments and businesses to adopt more beneficial policies.