Fox News Channel (FNC) is a United States-based cable and satellite news channel. It is owned by the Fox Entertainment Group, and is a subsidiary of News Corporation. As of January 2005, it is available to 85 million households in the U.S. and further to viewers internationally, broadcasting primarily out of its New York City studios.
The channel was created by Australian media magnate Rupert Murdoch, who hired Republican political strategist Roger Ailes as its founding CEO. The network was launched on October 7, 1996 to 17 million cable subscribers. The network slowly rose to prominence in the late 1990s. In the United States, Fox News Channel has been rated as the cable news network with the largest number of regular viewers.
Prior to founding Fox News, Murdoch had gained significant experience in the 24-hour news business when News Corp.'s BSkyB subsidiary started Europe's first 24 hour news channel, Sky News, in the United Kingdom in 1989. With the success of his fourth network efforts in the United States, experience gained from Sky News, and turnaround of 20th Century Fox, Murdoch announced on January 31, 1996 that News Corp. would be launching a 24-hour news channel to air on both cable and satellite systems as part of a News Corp. "worldwide platform" for Fox programming, reasoning that "The appetite for news - particularly news that explains to people how it affects them - is expanding enormously.
In February 1996, after well-known former Republican political strategist Roger Ailes left America's Talking (now MSNBC), Murdoch called him to start the Fox News Channel. A group of Ailes loyalists who followed him throughout the NBC empire joined him at Fox. From there, the CNBC expatriates, who joined a team already in place at Fox News, created the programming concept and proceeded to select space in New York. Ailes worked individuals through five months of 14-hour workdays and several weeks of rehearsal shows before launch, on October 7, 1996.
At launch, only 10 million households were able to watch Fox News, with none in the major media markets of New York City and Los Angeles. According to published reports, many media reviewers had to watch the first day's programming at Fox News studios because it was not readily available. The rolling news coverage during the day consisted of 20-minute single topic shows like Fox on Crime or Fox on Politics surrounded by news headlines. Interviews had various facts at the bottom of the screen about the topic or the guest. The flagship newscast at the time was called The Schneider Report, with Mike Schneider giving a fast paced delivery of the news. During the evening, Fox had opinion shows: The O'Reilly Report (now, The O'Reilly Factor), The Crier Report hosted by Catherine Crier, and Hannity & Colmes.
From the beginning, Fox News has placed heavy emphasis on visual presentation. Graphics were designed to be colorful and attention grabbing and to allow people to get the main points of what was being said even if they couldn't hear the host, through the use of on-screen text summarizing the position of the interviewer or speaker and "bullet points" when a host was giving commentary.
Fox News also created the "Fox News Alert," which interrupted regular programming when a breaking news story occurred.
To accelerate its adoption by cable companies, Fox News paid systems up to $11 per subscriber to distribute the network. This contrasted with the normal practice, in which cable operators paid stations carriage fees for the programming of channels. When Time Warner bought out Ted Turner's Turner Broadcasting, a federal antitrust consent decree required Time Warner to carry a second all-news channel in addition to its own CNN. Time Warner selected MSNBC as the secondary news network, instead of Fox News. Fox News claimed that this violated an agreement to carry Fox News. Citing its agreement to keep its U.S. headquarters and a large studio in New York City, News Corporation pressured Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's administration to pressure Time Warner, one of the city's two cable providers, to transmit Fox News on a city-owned channel. City officials threatened to take action affecting Time Warner's cable franchises in the city. .
A lawsuit was filed by Time Warner against the City of New York claiming undue interference with, and inappropriate use of, the city's educational channels for commercial programming. News Corporation countered with an antitrust lawsuit against Time Warner for unfairly protecting CNN. This led to an acrimonious battle between Murdoch and Turner, with Turner publicly comparing Murdoch to Adolf Hitler while Murdoch's New York Post ran an editorial questioning Turner's sanity. Giuliani's motives were also questioned, as his wife was a producer at Murdoch-owned WNYW-TV. In the end, Time Warner and News Corporation signed a settlement agreement to permit Fox News to be carried on New York City cable system beginning in October 1997, and on all of Time Warner's cable systems by 2001, though Time Warner still does not carry Fox News in all areas. In return, Time Warner was given some rights to News Corporation's satellites in Asia and Europe to distribute Time Warner programming, would receive the normal compensation per subscriber paid to cable operators, and News Corporation would not object to the continuation of Atlanta Braves baseball games being carried on TBS (which could have expired because of the Fox television network's contract with Major League Baseball).
On May 1, 2008, Fox News launched high definition channel simulcasts of its programming in selected regions of the United States. Time Warner Cable is carrying this channel in New York, NY, San Antonio, TX, and Kansas City, MO, while Cablevision is making it available in New York, NY and on Long Island. Recently, Comcast began adding the channel in Chicago, IL, Salt Lake City, UT, and few select markets.
Producing a variety of different programming, Fox News Channel has a number of different program hosts, news anchors, correspondents, and contributors which appear throughout daily programming on the network. The network has a number of different signature hosts, including Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes, Greta Van Susteren, and Shepard Smith, all of whom host programs which are on the list of the top 100 most watched programs on cable news.
Fox News saw huge growth in its ratings during the early stages of the Iraq conflict. By some reports, at the height of the conflict they enjoyed as much as a 300 percent increase in viewership, averaging 3.3 million viewers daily.
In 2004, Fox News Channel's ratings for its broadcast of the Republican National Convention beat those of all three broadcast networks. During President George W. Bush's address, Fox News notched 7.3 million viewers nationally, while NBC, CBS, and ABC scored ratings of 5.9, 5.0, and 5.1, respectively.
In late 2005 and early 2006, Fox saw a brief decline in ratings. One of the most notable decline in ratings came in the second quarter of 2006, when compared to the previous quarter, Fox News had a loss in viewership for every single prime time program. One of the most noteworthy losses of viewership was that of Special Report with Brit Hume. The show's total viewership was down 19 percent compared to the previous quarter. However, several weeks later, in the wake of the North Korean Missile Crisis and the 2006 Lebanon War, Fox saw a surge in viewership and remained the #1 rated cable news channel. Fox still held eight of the ten most-watched nightly cable news shows, with The O'Reilly Factor and Hannity & Colmes coming in first and second places, respectively.
For the year 2007, Fox News was the number-one rated cable news network in the United States. It was down one percent in total daily viewers and down three percent in the 25-54 year old demographic, but it still boasted most of the top-rated shows on cable news led by The O’Reilly Factor. For primetime TV Fox News ranked #6 of all cable networks.
Author and comedian Al Franken used the slogan in the subtitle for his 2003 book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. In the book, he cites examples of Fox News' bias. On August 22, 2003, Fox sued based upon its trademark on the phrase. Fox News dropped the lawsuit three days later after Judge Denny Chin refused their request for an injunction (see Fox v. Franken).
In December 2003, Fox News found itself on the other end of a legal battle concerning the slogan, when AlterNet filed a cancellation petition with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to have Fox's trademark rescinded as misdescriptive. AlterNet included the documentary film Outfoxed as supporting evidence in its case. After losing early motions, AlterNet withdrew its petition and the USPTO dismissed the case.
In April 2008 FNC's sister network, Fox Business Network (which launched on 2007-10-15) adopted a new slogan: Start here. Start now (as of May 12, 2008). This is the network's current advertising slogan. These ads currently air on all Fox Cable Networks programs and as newspaper ads in New York Post, Dow Jones newspapers, and others.
In 2004, director Robert Greenwald produced the documentary film Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism. The film argues that Fox News has a conservative bias, including as evidence internal memos from editorial Vice President John Moody which, the film claims, exposes attempts to distort the content of Fox News. This was later distributed on DVD by MoveOn.org.
The Fox News Channel feed is available internationally, while the Fox News Extra segments provide alternate programming.
Initially, US advertisements were replaced on Fox News with viewer e-mail and profiles of Fox News anchors set to music. In 2002 these were replaced with international weather forecasts. In 2006, the weather segments were replaced with 'Fox News Extra' segments, various narrated reports from FOX reports on a variety of topics. These reports are generally on lighter issues not related to current news events, and the segments are repeated. Fox News Channel also shows international weather forecasts when the Fox News Extra segments run short.
The Fox News feed in the United Kingdom does not feature Fox News Extra, and instead features break fillers from sister channel Sky News's International Variant. For a short period in 2001, a still of the Fox News logo replaced this other content.
In Australia, Fox News Channel is broadcast on the three major Pay-TV providers, Foxtel, Austar and Optus Television. Foxtel is 25 percent owned by News Corporation. The Australian version previously featured some local programming, including a John Laws current affairs program in place of part of Fox & Friends. Local advertisements and promotions are aired in place of every second 'Fox News Extra' segment. Sky News Australia is Fox's sister channel.
Since 2002 Fox News has been broadcast to Brazil, but the commercials are replaced with Fox News Extra. It is broadcast by Sky (satellite operator, a joint-venture between News Corporation and Globosat) and in the digital packages of NET.
On December 14, 2000, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved Fox News Canada on behalf of the Global Television Network, for broadcast in Canada. Fox News Canada was to be a domestic Canadian version of Fox News. The channel, or "specialty television service", was never implemented by Fox, and the deadline for commencement of the service expired on November 24, 2004. That same day, a similar license was granted to Rogers Communications for "MSNBC Canada", which went to air in September 2001. During this period, it was speculated by some, and repeated by Fox News personalities, that the station was being "banned in Canada." The CRTC's previous refusal to grant Fox News an outright license had been contested by some Canadians, as well as American fans of the channel, who believed the decision to be politically motivated. However, it is rare for any American cable network to be licensed in Canada outright.
On November 18, 2004 the CRTC announced that a digital license would be granted to Fox News. In its proposal, Fox News stated, with reference to Fox News Canada, that "Fox News does not intend to implement this service and therefore will not meet the extended deadline to commence operations. On December 16, 2004, Rogers Communications became the first Canadian cable or satellite provider to broadcast Fox News, with other companies following suit within the next several weeks.
In New Zealand, Fox News is broadcast on Channel 92 of pay satellite operator Sky TV's digital platform. It is also broadcast overnight on New Zealand TV channel Prime, owned by Sky. Fox News parent corporation News Corp has a stake in both Sky and Prime.
Between 2003 and 2006, in Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries, Fox News was broadcast 16 hours a day on TV8, with Fox News Extra segments replacing U.S. advertising. Fox News was dropped by TV8 and replaced by German news channel Deutsche Welle in September 2006.
Fox News is also carried in the United Kingdom by the British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) satellite television network (Sky Digital) which is 40% owned by Fox's parent News Corporation. It is run as a sister channel to BSkyB's popular Sky News. Fox News is usually broadcast as a VideoGuard encrypted channel but during major news stories it may be simulcast on Sky Active, which is free to air. As of September 2006 the channel has carried UK specific advertising, along with headlines and weather provided by Sky News during its breaks. These run under the brand of Fox News International.
Due to the shared ownership of Fox and Sky, Fox News and Sky News routinely share bureaus and reporters for breaking news stories from around the world.
Fox News Channel is also carried in more than 40 countries. Although service to Japan stopped in the summer of 2003, it can still be seen on Americable (distributor for American bases), Mediatti (Kadena Air Base), and Pan Global TV Japan.