Global citizens movement Avaaz has launched what it describes as an “unprecedented” public interest legal challenge to Britain’s broadcasting regulator, filing papers in court seeking a judicial review of Ofcom’s decision to clear the proposed takeover of Sky by 21st Century Fox.
In June 2017, Ofcom found that if Sky was fully owned by Fox, it would still be ‘fit and proper’ to hold a UK broadcasting licence. Avaaz is seeking to have Ofcom’s decision quashed and a new investigation opened. The Murdochs’ bid for Sky TV already faces a wide-ranging 6-month investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
“Repeated, large-scale scandals in the Murdoch empire indicate that something is very rotten at the core of their businesses,” declared Alex Wilks, Avaaz Campaign Director. “Ofcom didn’t dig deep enough before declaring the Murdochs fit to own even more of our media.”
Grounds of Avaaz’s challenge:
Avaaz is challenging the fit and proper decision on four ground:
Avaaz contends that Ofcom also took assurances given by the Murdochs at face value, despite a history of broken promises. According to Avaaz, the latest examples of Murdoch double-speak are the return of Bill O’Reilly to Fox News as a guest, after he was sacked over sexual harassment allegations at the height of the Ofcom investigation, and claiming commercial considerations for the withdrawal of Fox News from the UK just days before the government’s CMA referral decision.