The editions of Hannity and Tucker Carlson Tonight were broadcast before the US news channel pulled out of the UK market on August 29. Ofcom said it was appropriate to still publish its decisions to ensure there was a complete compliance record.
The regulator found Hannity’s January 31 coverage of President Trump’s executive order restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries to be a ‘major’ matter amid significant international interest. Although viewers might expect Hannity to come from a perspective more supportive of the Republican party, critical views were repeatedly dismissed or ridiculed by the presenter in his opening monologue, and the remainder of the programme featured guests who were all prominent supporters of the Trump administration.
Tucker Carlson Tonight, broadcast on May 25, was also in breach of due impartiality rules. It followed the terrorist attack on the Manchester Arena during a concert by the singer Ariana Grande. The programme featured highly critical statements of the prime minister, the deputy mayor of Manchester and the chief constable of Greater Manchester police. Accusing them of doing no counter terrorism, stop radicalisation or protect “thousands of underage girls” from rape and abuse. There was no reflection of the views of those criticised.
In both cases Fox News was found to be in breach of rules 5.9, 5.11 and 5.12.
The report in Ofcom’s Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin will be of interest to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in its investigation into the proposed £11.7 billion takeover of Sky Plc by 21st Century Fox. There is concern at the measures that Fox News had in place for media compliance prior to its withdrawal from the market.
An earlier report found that actions to improve the approach were only put in place once Ofcom expressed concerns.