As he arrived in Britain for a state visit on Monday, President Trump took to Twitter to express his concern about the options for American news networks in the country.
The president did not make clear what American news outlets he would favor in Britain over CNN, which offers an international version around the world.
However, Trump is known to be an avid viewer of one network in particular: Fox News.
The president regularly tweets about news he has seen on the right-leaning network, and he is an active participant on the network. According to data compiled by The Washington Post earlier this year, roughly one-third of all interview time that Trump has given to members of the media since taking office were granted to Fox News or its sister network, Fox Business Network.
Why can’t the American president watch a “Fox News International” in Britain, as he could with CNN? The problem appears to be relatively simple: British viewers have rejected it.
Just two years ago, it was possible to watch Fox News in Britain. However, in August 2017, the network was abruptly pulled off the air. A statement released by its parent company at the time pinned the blame on low ratings.
“It averages only a few thousand viewers across the day,” 21st Century Fox said in a statement provided to CNN. The company noted that this was largely because the network’s programming was aimed at American audiences.
“We have concluded that it is not in our commercial interest to continue providing Fox News in the U.K.," the statement said.
The channel aired in Britain for more than a decade and was offered by Sky Limited, a British media conglomerate that at the time was partially owned by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.
Although figures released by the Broadcaster’s Audience Research Board (BARB) suggested that Fox News’s average daily viewers in Britain were almost 60,000, a company source told the BBC that they were in fact closer to 2,000.
The decision to pull out of Britain came amid scrutiny of Fox News from Britain’s telecommunications regulator, the Office of Communications. The regulator, widely known as Ofcom, had criticized the television network for a number of breaches, including airing pro-Brexit views on the day of the June 2016 referendum on leaving the European Union and allowing a commentator to suggest that Britain’s second-largest city was “totally Muslim.”
Months after the channel was taken off the air in Britain, Ofcom said in a statement that the channel had broken broadcasting rules about impartiality by being largely pro-Trump and not offering alternative viewpoints.
At the time it stopped broadcasting, 21st Century Fox had offered a bid of 11.7 billion pounds, roughly $14.8 billion at current exchange rates, to buy the remaining 61 percent of Sky that it did not already own.
Critics of the merger said the deal would give Murdoch too much control of British media. Some suggested that the decision to drop Fox News was linked, an idea the company itself denied.
After a lengthy battle with British regulators, Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox was ultimately outbid in its pursuit of Sky and ended up selling its own stake in the company to another U.S. firm, Comcast.
In an earnings call in April, Comcast chief executive Brian L. Roberts said the company was considering launching a global NBC-Sky news channel this year.