Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson breached impartiality rules, U.K. says

The Fox News hosts may have jeopardized 21st Century Fox's plans to buy British outlet Sky News

Published November 6, 2017 3:40PM (EST)

Sean Hannity   (AP/Carolyn Kaster)
Sean Hannity (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

The British government's media regulator, Ofcom, ruled on Monday that certain Fox News segments on Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson's shows were in breach of the country's impartiality rules.

The regulator declared that Hannity's eponymous show violated certain media rules on Jan. 31 during its coverage of President Donald Trump's travel ban. The U.K. requires adequate representation of "alternative views" on matters of major political and industrial controversy.

"[The alternative] views were briefly represented in pre-recorded videos and repeatedly dismissed or ridiculed by the presenter without sufficient opportunity for the contributors to challenge or otherwise respond to the criticism directed at them," Ofcom wrote in its finding. "During the rest of the programme, 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."

Similarly, Ofcom found that Tucker Carlson's program failed to include a "wide range of significant views when dealing with matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy." The segment at issue was from May 25, when Carlson covered the terrorist attack in Manchester three days earlier.

"There was no reflection of the views of the U.K. 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 program," Ofcom said. "The presenter did not challenge the views of his contributors, instead, he reinforced their views."

The ruling comes as the British government examines 21st Century Fox’s bid to buy British media network Sky News. Fox has faced heightened significant scrutiny from British regulators ever since the right-wing network was rocked with sexual harassment allegations. British lawmakers have expressed concern that Fox was too partial towards the Trump administration, especially when it began to push a conspiracy theory about a murdered DNC staffer.

Ofcom's rulings Monday did not include any fine or censor, but the result definitely doesn't help chairman Rupert Murdoch's bid to expand his media empire in the U.K.

Fox pulled its programming in Britain back in August, likely out of fear that its shows could hurt chances to take over Sky News.

By Taylor Link

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Britain Fox News Media Right-wing Media Sean Hannity Sky News Tucker Carlson United Kingdom