The new channel is expected to launch on Monday April 25, with Piers Morgan’s primetime show Uncensored also airing that evening.
The launch of Rupert Murdoch’s new TalkTV channel will sidestep Ofcom’s scrutiny of media plurality and effectively allow for a ‘backdoor’ change in the UK media landscape.
As early as July, the broadcasting regulator will release a report assessing whether “new trigger mechanisms” should be put in place to investigate media plurality concerns, according to the Mirror.
Under the Companies Act 2002, Ofcom can only address media plurality concerns in the case of mergers.
Mr Murdoch’s new channel is due to launch on Monday April 25, with Piers Morgan’s primetime show Uncensored also airing that evening.
If the channel goes ahead and launches before Ofcom’s report is completed in the summer, the watchdog may not have to scrutinize Mr Murdoch’s new influence on the media scene.
A key consideration to be assessed in Ofcom’s forthcoming report, due out in the summer, is whether “new ‘triggering mechanisms’ that would allow Ofcom to examine potential media plurality concerns outside the context of a particular merger” will be put in place should be.
Ofcom reported several submissions received during its “Call for Evidence” stating that media pluralism can be damaged by processes other than mergers.
This included the contribution of Dr. Craaufurd Smith, a media law attorney. She told the broadcasting regulator: “Media power can come not only from mergers, but also from market exits (as in the local print market and some online services) and consolidation through network effects.
“The current approach in the Enterprise Act 2002, whereby action is triggered by a merger situation, is therefore insufficient to address the challenges faced by pluralism online (or offline for that matter).”
Mr Murdoch was previously accused of having “significant influence on public opinion”.
In 2018, Murdoch’s Fox News was prevented under the Enterprise Act from taking over Sky amid fears the merger would give the Murdoch family too much clout over UK media.
The Competition and Markets Authority, which operates under the Enterprise Act, found that Fox’s acquisition of Sky was “not in the public interest due to concerns about media plurality”.
The report added: “By virtue of their control of News Corp, the Murdoch family already has a significant influence on public opinion and Fox’s full ownership of Sky would further strengthen this.”
Mr Morgan’s 60-minute program will air on both Fox Nation in the US and Murdoch’s Sky News in Australia.
It comes after Ofcom revoked Fox News’ UK license in 2017 for “serious infringement of a current affairs programme”.
The broadcast watchdog said he “presented audiences with materially misleading facts” from Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson shows.
Murdoch is said to have launched the new channel in the UK because he was unhappy with the programming on offer during the Covid lockdown, the FT reports.
News UK has been reached for comment.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/murdochs-talktv-station-launch-set-26667942 The launch of Murdoch's TalkTV channel is set to escape Ofcom's media plurality scrutiny