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Fox News wasn’t banned from UK, contrary to false claims online

November 24, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: Fox News was banned from operating in the United Kingdom for promoting right-wing “propaganda.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Fox News voluntarily stopped broadcasting in the U.K. in 2017 after failing to cultivate a sufficient audience. U.K. regulators did not ban the channel from operating in the region.

THE FACTS: On Monday, posts claiming that Fox News was “banned” from the U.K. for being “propaganda” began circulating widely on Twitter.

“The UK banned Fox News because they saw it as propaganda for right-wing extremism” reads one post that was retweeted over 13,000 times. Another post, which was retweeted over 3,000 times, states that the U.K. “banned” Fox News for being a “propaganda site.”

These claims are false, according to both Fox News and U.K. officials. Fox News’ former parent company, 21st Century Fox, announced in August 2017 that Fox News would stop broadcasting in the U.K. due to the channel’s low viewership there.

A spokesperson for Fox News referred The Associated Press to a statement that 21st Century Fox released at the time. 21st Century Fox has since been acquired by Disney.

“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.,” the statement reads. “We have concluded that it is not in our commercial interest to continue providing Fox News in the U.K.”

Ofcom, the agency that regulates communications industries in the U.K., confirmed that Fox News was not banned from the region.

“Fox News decided to stop broadcasting in the UK on 29 August 2017, and surrendered its licence to Ofcom on 1 November 2017,” an Ofcom spokesperson wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “This was a decision taken by Fox News, as confirmed by the statement the organisation issued at the time, which is carried by several media outlets, including BBC News and the Guardian.”

Months after Fox News withdrew from the U.K., Ofcom determined in November 2017 that the channel had breached its impartiality rules earlier that year. Ofcom cited coverage from January 2017 of former President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from several Muslim-majority countries on the program “Hannity,” according to an agency bulletin. “Tucker Carlson Tonight” also violated the same rules while covering the May 2017 terrorist attack in Manchester, the agency ruled.

Once again, though, that determination by the regulator was unrelated to Fox News pulling out of the region, which had happened earlier.

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.