Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp will not launch a fully fledged Fox News-style news channel in the U.K., finding that such a move would not be financially viable.
Rebekah Brooks, CEO of the company’s News UK unit, told staff in an email memo Tuesday that there would not be sufficient payoff for shareholders in starting an outright channel, with the company instead focusing on producing streaming video content. Brooks vowed, though, to invest increasingly in professional video content production.
“Over the past 18 months, we have been exploring the opportunities in the TV market for content from News UK,” she wrote in the memo obtained by THR. “We already produce original video from each of our newsrooms, and our radio stations produce clips and live streams of key shows. In the same way that we have professionalized and monetized our audio output with the expertise of [radio and digital broadcasting network] Wireless, we are seeking to do the same with video.”
News UK has already announced News to Me, a weeknight entertainment news show available in live and on-demand streaming form, and other shows are planned, she noted. But the original expectation was for News UK TV to launch with several hours of programming every night.
“There is certainly consumer demand for more news-based programming, and News UK has trusted and well-known brands,” Brooks wrote in her memo. “David’s work has therefore explored the opportunity to provide live and on-demand video to streaming platforms, using our existing brands and our ability to tell stories and break news. The talented team we have hired are also exploring new show formats, and we have professionalized our in-house video capability, creating the ability to deliver broadcast-quality video output from reimagined studios.”
News UK’s radio boss, Scott Taunton, will now take on oversight of the video output, while consultant David Rhodes, a former Fox News executive and CBS News president who moved from the U.S. to London last summer to spearhead the initiative, will depart in June.
Rhodes will “remain involved with News Corp on its investments in streaming news media,” though, Brooks wrote.
British media had been gearing up for a showdown between the News UK programming, possibly on a linear channel, and the upcoming GB News, led by former BBC host Andrew Neil. Its investors include Discovery. But the new approach is more in line with Fox’s streaming service Fox Nation in the U.S. and Fox News International abroad.