‘Fox News Broadcasting Standards Could Spill over to Sky’, U.S. Witness to Warn UK Media Regulator

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U.S. witnesses, including Fox News anchor Kelly Wright, will speak to British lawmakers to give evidence on the ‘systemic corporate management problems’ at the news network which could influence the decision to allow a proposed takeover of Sky Plc by Twenty-First Century Fox.

Mr. Wright, who is suing the news network for racial discrimination, will speak to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and then at a meeting chaired by former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, a vocal opponent of the proposed £11.7 billion takeover, at the House of Commons on Monday.

Douglas Wigdor, Wright’s lawyer, will also be giving evidence to the CMA which is examining whether Sky could maintain broadcasting standards after a Fox takeover.

In addition, Joe Lindsley, a protege of Roger Ailes, will speak at Miliband’s meeting, which will explore the potential ‘Foxification’ of news in the UK.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Monday morning, Mr. Wright outlined that he is part of a class action lawsuit based on racial discrimination within the company.

“I have to say from the onset it’s a very painful decision to make. I was very reluctant to do so. But some of my colleagues in departments that are serving in roles behind the scenes were experiencing some blatant forms of racism,” he told host Nick Robinson.

“I began to look at that and at my own situation that had been going on for a number of years in terms of the marginalisation of my career.”

Mr. Robinson questioned whether, even if people agree with Wright or are critical of the network, the news anchor’s complaint may tell Britons more about the management of Fox News but nothing about the company thousands of miles away intending to take over a UK media organisation.

Lawyer Dougald Wigdore replied: “I think [the management of Fox News] does [tell you about the impact of a merger] because what you see is a systemic problem of corporate governance which actually had a factor in their broadcasting standards in the U.S. – factors which will probably spill over to Sky if Twenty-First Century Fox is permitted to purchase Sky.”

Mr. Wigdore previously met with British communications regulatory authority Office of Communications (Ofcom), after writing to request a meeting saying he believed “[Ofcom] should hear from people who have knowledge about how [Fox] is operating”. 

The governance at Fox News has been highlighted by opponents of the merger who assert it is evidence that it would not be appropriate for the Murdoch clan to own all of Sky Plc.

Twenty-First Century Fox owns 39 per cent of Sky Plc but wants to buy the rest of the British TV giant, the move being recommended to Sky shareholders.

In November, Sky warned it could shut down Sky News if questions over the Murdoch family’s influence on Britain’s media landscape impede its purchase by Twenty-First Century Fox.

Comments by Mr. Wright and Mr. Wigdore to the CMA will not be made public until a later date.

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