Media Matters, in partnership with global activism group Avaaz, submitted a report to U.K.'s chief broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, detailing the risks Rupert Murdoch’s desired takeover of British satellite broadcasting company Sky poses to British broadcasting standards. On March 16, U.K. Culture Secretary Karen Bradley had referred Murdoch's takeover bid to Ofcom for a thorough investigation on the grounds of “media plurality and commitment to broadcasting standards.” Ofcom has to report back to Secretary Bradley by May 16.
Since the referral, more alarming information has come out about the toxic corporate culture and alleged improper conduct in Murdoch’s company. Media Matters and Avaaz detailed these additional concerns in their report:
In recent months, serious allegations of sexual harassment, other abuse and discrimination, and corporate misgovernance have been levelled at subsidiaries of 21C Fox. Many of these allegations are against the highest and most influential people at the organisation. Investigative news reports, victims’ testimonies, and court documents paint a picture of a management with no meaningful accountability and no credible governance structure. The situation is so serious that federal prosecutors are now investigating.
In July 2016, Fox News anchorwoman Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes in the New Jersey Superior Court. After reportedly trying hard to campaign against the culture of harassment, she alleges that Ailes “sabotaged” her career because she “refused his sexual advances.” She was forced to file against Ailes and not Fox News because her contract had a clause that mandated employment disputes be resolved in private arbitration - an approach Fox News adopts repeatedly, denying victims their day in court.
A stark pattern of corporate negligence and management failure emerges, with a number of alleged incidents occurring after 2012, the date when 21C Fox claims to have introduced a new corporate conduct compliance mechanism. This pattern has strong echoes of years-long attempts by executives to mislead authorities, investors, staff and the public about phone hacking and other illegal activity in the UK.
This joint report builds upon a previous report on 21st Century Fox’s unsuitability to take over Sky -- which oversees Sky News. The new document, details the corporate governance failures of Murdoch-controlled 21st Century Fox, including the new lawsuits and reports of sexual harassment.
This culture of discrimination and abuse is also reflected in the programming of Fox News. As detailed in the new report, the network has repeatedly violated the standards of the Broadcasting Code of Britain’s 2003 Communications Act through “a consistent pattern of derogatory or abusive statements about a variety of groups, religions and communities as well as singling out specific individuals for unfair treatment. … All in all, there is a consistent pattern of regular abusive and derogatory treatment of a range of individuals, groups, religions and communities that is absolutely not justified by the context of the broadcasts in question. Fox has largely failed to adequately correct or respond to complaints, and has let similar abusive and derogatory material air on subsequent occasions -- again, uncorrected."