The UK's broadcast media regulator has found segments from Fox News primetime hosts Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, which included the network's coverage of the Manchester terrorist attack, were not suitable for British television.
The decision comes at a delicate time for the Murdoch media empire as regulators continue to consider whether to allow the 20th Century Fox takeover bid for pay-TV network Sky.
Sky dropped Fox News from its pay-TV service in August, with some analysts suggesting it was preemptive decision from Fox to make sure its controversial US news network didn't jeopardise the £11 billion deal.
On Monday Ofcom published its findings into two complaints made against Fox News earlier this year.
It found a Tucker Carlson Tonight segment from May about the Manchester terrorist attack breached the "impartiality" standards included in the country's broadcasting rules:
The programme included highly critical statements about: Theresa May; the Deputy Mayor of Manchester, Baroness Hughes; the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, Ian Hopkins; the UK Government; and the UK authorities, including accusations that particular individuals and public bodies had done nothing to: counter terrorism; stop radicalisation; protect citizens from terrorism; or protect “thousands of underage girls” from rape and abuse.
The regulator found the Fox News report was one-sided and Tucker Carlson "did not challenge the views of his contributors, instead, he reinforced their views". It states:
Further, about public leaders: that their inaction was motivated by political correctness; they valued how people saw them over the lives of children; and they were forcing an “official lie” on citizens, which was “totalitarian” and “wicked”. There was no reflection of the views of the UK Government or any of the authorities or people criticised, which we would have expected given the nature and amount of criticism of them in the programme. The presenter did not challenge the views of his contributors, instead, he reinforced their views.
There was also a finding against a Hannity Tonight segment from January this year, on US president Donald Trump's executive order banning travel from some Muslim-majority countries.
The report was impartial, Ofcom said, noting Sean Hannity's "enthusiastic support" for Trump:
... the presenter interviewed various guests who were all prominent supporters of the Trump administration and highly critical of those opposed to the Order. The presenter consistently voiced his enthusiastic support for the Order and the Trump Administration.
These new findings will continue to encourage groups opposing the Fox-Sky takeover, with several making the case that 20th Century Fox should not be allowed to take over the running of the UK's 24-hour news network, Sky News.
The coalition of groups who are opposed to the deal includes activist organisation Avaaz, US liberal watchdog Media Matters, and various senior UK Labour MPs who are locked in long-running feuds with the Murdoch media empire.
They argue 20th Century Fox is not "fit and proper" to hold a British broadcasting licence, citing skewed news coverage at Fox News and the recent sexual harassment scandals involving former network chief Roger Ailes and host Bill O'Reilly.
As Fox News no longer is broadcast in the UK, Ofcom's findings won't lead to any further action from the British regulator.
Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Mark Di Stefano at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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