After 15 years of broadcasting in the U.K., 21st Century Fox is removing Fox News from Sky even as it continues driving toward a $15 billion takeover of the 61% of the pay-TV service it doesn't already own.
"Fox News is focused on the U.S. market and designed for a U.S. audience and, accordingly, it averages only a few thousand viewers across the day in the U.K.," the company said. "We have concluded that it is not in our commercial interest to continue providing Fox News in the U.K."
The company insisted there was no connection between the move and the looming decision by British regulators about whether to open an investigation into the company's adherence to broadcast standards. According to The Guardian, Fox has breached its license 22 times in the past decade, in the view of British regulatory agency Ofcom. Four of those instances involved Fox News over the past year.
The network faces a lawsuit over its since-retracted story about the death of Democratic activist Seth Rich, the kind of story that concerns critics and U.K. regulators since politically slanted coverage is restricted in that country. Fox News has also seen a string of serious sexual harassment cases involving late founder Roger Ailes and longtime top-rated host Bill O'Reilly. Former primetime star Megyn Kelly is among many female anchors and reporters who have described a toxic atmosphere for women at the network.
Acquiring 100% of Sky would be a transformative deal for Fox. But a previous bid to take control was abandoned in 2011 after the phone-hacking scandal involving Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid, which then closed.
London-based Sky also operates in Germany, Austria and Italy. With 21 million video subscribers, it is Europe's top pay-TV provider and has expanded broadband services in recent years.