After months of trouble for the corporation, Fox News is abandoning its United Kingdom operations, claiming that low ratings have forced the channel off the air. The announcement comes at the same time that Fox News' parent company 21st Century Fox is attempting a $14 billion takeover of the British news network Sky News, which is the estimated net worth of the 61 percent of Sky News that 21st Century Fox doesn't already own.
Fox News was broadcast in Britain through a Sky News feed, which some say was a barrier while the two companies were still trying to gain government approval for the merger.
"21st Century Fox has decided to cease providing a feed of Fox News Channel in the U.K.," the company said in a statement Tuesday. "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. We have concluded that it is not in our commercial interest to continue providing Fox News in the U.K."
The company was insistent that the decision to end the feed was motivated by simple finance, not the promise of expediting the larger deal. According to the Guardian, broadcasting the Fox News feed actually cost more money than it made — Fox News didn't tailor the feed to U.K. viewers, and attracted less than 2,000 daily consumers as a result.
At the end of July, British culture secretary Karen Bradley announced that she may refer the merger to the Competition and Markets Authority, which investigates corporate mergers. Critics of the acquisition say that it will give Rupert Murdoch, owner of 21st Century Fox, too much control over British media. In addition to Fox News and part of Sky, Murdoch also owns several major British newspapers and controls about 34 percent of that industry's market share across the country.
Along with the planned merger, the decision also coincides with Fox News' steadily sliding ratings and reputation in the United States. The network hemorrhaged advertisers earlier this year after a public campaign to get former host Bill O'Reilly off the air after decades of sexual assault allegations, which O'Reilly denied. Fox News lost its place as the number one overall cable news station in ratings for the first time ever this month, succumbing to liberal competitor MSNBC.