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This article mentions in passing:

I even pointed out how Fox News wasn’t even a news channel. It changed classification in 2018. That one blew a few minds.

The article references Fox News T&Cs, which don't seem to say anything about it.

Is Fox News classified as something other than a news channel, and if so then what is it, and in what context was this decision made?

Edit due to comments

I'm aware of the opinion of many people about the trustworthiness of Fox News, but the statement "It changed classification in 2018" seems to suggest something that was both more official and categorical, such as not being in the "news" category in some list somewhere.

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    I would argue that this is going to be hard to prove one way or another as it's more of an opinion than a fact. One could say that the channel includes opinion shows and that makes it, on the whole, opinion. If that is the case, then all American news channels would then be not news. In short, it depends on your definition of a news channel. – Ben Nov 21 '19 at 22:15
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    @Ben The "it changed classification in 2018" part makes it sound like the claim is about some sort of official classification as opposed to just an opinion about what constitutes a "new channel." – reirab Nov 21 '19 at 23:19
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    At risk of tu quoque, by criteria that it isn't classified as a news channel, are other news channels classified as news channels? – Andrew Grimm Nov 22 '19 at 5:06
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    The reason is that it doesn’t agree with them. Those who call it that are gullible enough to think the others are somehow better. – WGroleau Nov 22 '19 at 9:00
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    Trivially, I suppose you can say that the claim is false: Fox News did not change its classification because no such classification exists to change. – Michael W. Nov 22 '19 at 18:32
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tl;dr- The article appears to be referring to how the Media Bias Chart downgraded their assessment of Fox News to "Opinion Source" in 2018 (or 2017), which it describes as reflecting "Problematic Quality" as opposed to the "Satisfactory Quality" that the same source apparently had assessed Fox News at previously. That said, the Media Bias Chart does continue to track Fox News as a news source in the general sense, despite apparently classifying it as an "Opinion Source" in terms of reliability.


To quote the bit before the claim:

I added the NPR investigative article about tracking fake news creators so that they could see how the right is targeted with misinformation. I used the Media Bias Chart to show them where their usual news choices actually fell on the “factual and unbiased” news. I even pointed out how Fox News wasn’t even a news channel. It changed classification in 2018.

"The Midwestern Black Professor Teaching MAGA Babies Is Not Alright"

In this context, it sounds like they're claiming that "the Media Bias Chart" stopped classifying Fox News as a news channel in 2018.

This is, they're not claiming that Fox News isn't a "news channel" in a general sense of "a channel that claims to report on the news", but rather they seem to be claiming that Fox News was reclassified in terms of reliable-vs.-fake news.

According to Google, this article from the Media Bias Chart's website is from 2018-08-29:

Fox News is now ranked far lower than the New York Times for two main reasons; one, Fox News is dominated by opinion and analysis, and two, it has gotten precipitously worse in other measures (sensational chyrons, loss of experienced journalists, hyperbolic analysis by contributors, etc.) within the last six months.

"The Chart, Version 2.0: What Makes A News Source “Good?”"

So apparently Fox News had a higher ranking, but it fell in 2018.

This corresponding chart [PDF] shows Fox News falling in the "Opinion Sources" category, with that part of the axis labeled "Problematic Quality". Since Fox News is just barely within this category (it's almost within the "Satisfactory Quality" category) after the noted significant fall in the rankings, it'd seem that the Media Bias Chart had classified Fox News as a satisfactory news source and then downgraded it to a problematic news source in 2018.

My guess would be that this downgrading is what the article meant by

I used the Media Bias Chart to show them where their usual news choices actually fell on the “factual and unbiased” news. I even pointed out how Fox News wasn’t even a news channel. It changed classification in 2018.

"The Midwestern Black Professor Teaching MAGA Babies Is Not Alright"

This is, the Media Bias Chart does appear to have changed its classification of Fox News in 2018, and this reclassification may've been stretched into the claim that Fox News was no longer a "[satisfactory] news channel".

This assessment appears to remain current (as of 2019-11-26):

The following scores Fox News’s overall bias and reliability scores according to our Ad Fontes Media ratings methodology.

Reliability: 23.16

Bias: 24.56

Reliability scores for articles and shows are on a scale of 0-64. Scores above 24 are generally acceptable; scores above 32 are generally good.

"Fox News Bias and Reliability"

This is, the "Reliability" score of 23.16 is just under the threshold of 24 for being "generally acceptable".


Caveat: Unclear if this was in 2018.

When I searched for this on Google, the article I quoted above describing the fall of Fox News was listed by Google as having been from 2018-08-29, describing the fall of Fox News "within the last six months". This would seem consistent with a claim about Fox News being reclassified in 2018.

However, the corresponding chart [PDF]'s link is:

  • https://www.adfontesmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Second-Edition-News-Chart.V2.pdf,

which includes "2017/08", which may suggest the reclassification actually happened in 2017 as opposed to 2018.


Disclaimer: This interpretation of the claim may be mistaken.

To quote it again, the claim's:

I added the NPR investigative article about tracking fake news creators so that they could see how the right is targeted with misinformation. I used the Media Bias Chart to show them where their usual news choices actually fell on the “factual and unbiased” news. I even pointed out how Fox News wasn’t even a news channel. It changed classification in 2018.

"The Midwestern Black Professor Teaching MAGA Babies Is Not Alright"

The above answer is based on the interpretation that they're referring to Fox News being reclassified as an "Opinion Source" by "the Media Bias Chart" in 2018.

However, the article also provides a link to Fox News's Terms of Use in the claim, making another plausible interpretation that they're claiming Fox News to have reclassified itself in 2018. This interpretation is reinforced by the Terms of Use being dated 2018-10-15, which'd be consistent with the claim about the reclassification occurring in 2018.

This interpretation of the claim has already been addressed in @reirab's answer, so I won't repeat it here.

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    "Media Bias Chart" - which isn't even the source of the quoted claim - lists HuffPost and Buzzfeed as highest reliability cohort (and mildly left political bias). That says all you need to know about their accuracy. – user5341 Nov 29 '19 at 0:44
  • @user5341 I like the premise behind "Media Bias Chart", but the sample sizes seem far too small for meaningful results. For example, the the Huffington Post's analysis page has 15 sources on it, with this story getting a very high "Quality" rating of 53.67. Without digging too far into that particular story, this seems like a plausible rating for it, but it's harder to say that it's representative. – Nat Nov 30 '19 at 20:26
  • To the down-voters: Down-voting because you disagree with the interpretation of the claim (and if so, why?), or because you think the claim itself is silly? @user5341's comment is getting up-votes when this answer gets down-votes, which suggests to me that folks agree that the Media Bias Chart isn't accurate -- which, to be clear, I agree with -- though the claim still reads to me like they're talking about the Media Bias Chart's classification system. – Nat Dec 12 '19 at 0:18
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In 2015, then CEO, Roger Ailes gave an interview to Hollywood Reporter for their 35 Most Powerful People in New York Media 2015 article:

SNL Kagan estimates the channel [Fox News] will earn $2.18 billion this year, the bulk of it from ad revenue and subscriber fees, dwarfing the potential of CNN ($1.16 billion) and MSNBC ($509 million). In fact, Ailes, 74, no longer views those networks as rivals. “We’re competing with TNT and USA and ESPN,” he says. Indeed, in February Fox News was the most-watched network in all of cable in primetime.

You brought up the fox news terms and service. In the Description of Company Services and Acceptance of Terms of Use Including Arbitration of Disputes it has the following information:

Company furnishes the Company Sites and the Company Services for your personal enjoyment and entertainment.

Which would be what is being referenced by the given article. it should be noted by that this particular agreement is only applicable to the following:

foxnews.com, foxbusiness.com, foxnation.com, foxnews.mobi, m.foxbusiness.com, the Fox News iOs application, the Fox Business iOs application, the Fox News Andriod application, the Fox Business Android application and any Company branded URL, WAP site and mobile application and other content and services that link to these Terms of Use

According to this article:

The media regulator Ofcom has ruled that the Fox News programmes Hannity and Tucker Carlson Tonight breached impartiality rules covering British broadcasting.

Sky pulled Fox News from its platform in Britain in August. It said the move was for commercial reasons as the channel was attracting only a small audience.

Ofcom said it was publishing the rulings despite Fox News no longer being broadcast in the UK “to ensure there is a complete compliance record and to facilitate public understanding of the code”.

The regulator has the power to fine broadcasters depending on how severely they breach the code. However, because Fox News no longer holds a broadcasting licence it cannot be considered for a fine.

It should also be pointed out that in the US a channel does not have to categorize itself as anything to the FCC, so feasibly it is not possible to say whether it intends to be or is a news channel as there is not an entity registered with the FCC as such to compare it to.

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    Reading the Guardian article you link - Fox News didn't "lose" its licence on the UK - it had already stopped broadcasting (for commercial reasons) and had no licence at the time the ombudsman's report came out. – user2276 Nov 21 '19 at 14:51
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    Ofcom went ahead with releasing the report because it needed to become record. The reason Sky stopped broadcasting was because the license was going to be pulled and they hoped that Ofcom would not put the report in to record so they can try again. Ofcom put the report in to record to ensure that a license will not be granted under those terms. So, even though Sky stopped broadcasting, they lost any claim to a license present or future. – Lady_A Nov 21 '19 at 14:57
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    Ofcom would have hit Fox News with a fine, not immediate revocation, for those breaches ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/policies-and-guidelines/… - it just couldn't easily pursue those fines as there was no licence at the time of publishing the report. – user2276 Nov 21 '19 at 15:17
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    "We’re competing with TNT and USA and ESPN" The quote at your link shows that fox has the ratings draw of a non-news channel. In the previous sentence news channels are mentioned, but they are "not competition" because their ratings are dwarfed by fox's (and the non-news channels). You seem to be insinuating the classification is related to content. – Hasse1987 Nov 22 '19 at 5:04
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    If "factual and balanced" was a requirement, then National Geographic would be the only news channel. – Gloweye Nov 22 '19 at 14:55
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The claim about Fox News "changing classification" in 2018 is false. There is no official classification of channels in the U.S. as news or otherwise.

The source of the claim links foxnews.com's Terms of Use in that portion of the claim. It appears that the author's confusion arose from foxnews.com having most recently updated its terms of use on October 15, 2018. (I've linked to the version from today on archive.org so that it will always link to what the page displayed at the time of this answer.)

The terms say,

Company furnishes the Company Sites and the Company Services for your personal enjoyment and entertainment.

However, this does not say that they don't consider themselves to be a news channel or that their content is somehow not 'classified' as news.

Furthermore, this language did not change in the 2018 update to the Terms of Use. It was identical in the version updated on October 26, 2016,

Company furnishes the Company Sites and the Company Services for your personal enjoyment and entertainment.

The substance of the sentence appears to date to the May 10, 2010 version of the Terms of Use, with the only difference being in the names the company used to refer to itself and its services:

FOX News furnishes the Site and the FOX News Services for your personal enjoyment and entertainment.

In the March 15, 2007 version of the Terms of Use, which appears to have been active until the May 2010 version, the word "education" was also in this sentence:

FOX has created this Site for your personal enjoyment, entertainment and education.


It's worth pointing out that many similar false claims have been made about Fox News in the past. It seems likely that one or more of these contributed to the misunderstanding on the part of the claim's author.

Perhaps the most noteworthy urban legend is that Fox News sued for and/or won in court a "right to lie," claims which apparently stemmed from a twisting or misunderstanding of a 2003 ruling in a case involving WTVT, the Fox affiliate network for the Tampa Bay area. According to Snopes, which rates this claim as 'False':

[T]he case from which the rumor stemmed resulted in a Florida appeals court ruling in February 2003, not 2004. More germane to the rumor, however, is the fact that the case at hand did not involve the national Fox News Channel; rather, it was a breach of contract lawsuit filed by two reporters against their former employer, Tampa Bay television station WTVT. (The situation was somewhat more complicated because WTVT was an affiliate of the Fox television network and was also owned by Fox, but the Fox television network and the Fox News Channel are two distinctly different entities.)

and

Another common misconception is that Fox News invoked First Amendment protections in order to retain the “right to lie” during the lengthy legal battle between the couple and the Florida Fox affiliate. There was no mention of any such claim in the appeals court decision, and Akre herself does not corroborate it. Ultimately, the FCC concluded in 2007 that the conflict between Akre and Wilson and the affiliate boiled down to an “editorial dispute … rather than a deliberate effort by [WTVT] to distort news.”

More recently, a claim circulated in early 2018 saying that Australia and New Zealand hand banned Fox News due to deeming it 'propaganda.' Snopes debunked that claim, too, saying that they found no evidence that either country had deemed Fox News to be 'propaganda,' that freedom of the press in both countries would have made such a ban impossible, and that Fox News continued to be aired in both countries at the time of their writing.

Snopes also noted in the same article that a similar claim had been circulating regarding the U.K. since November 2017:

Rumors that Fox News was banned in the United Kingdom have been circulating ever since November 2017, when it was reported that the U.K.’s communications regulator Ofcom had determined that some of the company’s programming was in breach of the country’s impartiality rules. But although it’s true that Fox News Channel was off the air in the U.K. by that time, it was because its parent company, 21st Century Fox, decided to cease broadcasting because the channel had failed to attract an audience there.

Snopes also debunked another similar claim stating that Fox News had been banned from Canada for reporting false information as news that dated to "at least 2011." According to Snopes,

it is not true that such regulations have kept the Fox News Channel from gaining entry into Canada, or that they were invoked to boot Fox News out of that country after the channel was established there.

and

Fox Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch was rebuffed in his efforts to establish Fox News Canada in 2003 due to Canadian laws regarding foreign ownership of print and broadcast media, but the CRTC approved an application to bring the Fox News Channel to Canadian digital television line-ups back in November 2004, and that channel is now carried by dozens of different digital providers throughout Canada.

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    wow, if even Snopes sides with Fox there must really be no way to twist it to make Fox look bad. They're among the worst far left fake sites out there, almost as bad as MSNBC and CNN. – jwenting Nov 26 '19 at 10:36
  • I have removed the "accepted" tick from this because a better answer turned up. – Paul Johnson Nov 27 '19 at 16:00
  • @PaulJohnson I don't think that interpretation of the claim is correct. While the two claims were near each other, the original source linked to Fox's terms as the source for her claim about it not being a news channel. Furthermore, the way that sentence starts ("I even...") makes it pretty clear that she's beginning a new claim (though one that is attempting to make the same point.) The "it changed classification in 2018" is following the part that links Fox's terms, not the reference to the Media Bias Chart. – reirab Nov 27 '19 at 16:29
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    @PaulJohnson She references three different sources in that paragraph (the NPR article, the media bias chart, and the Fox terms,) but the specific claims about Fox News "not being a news channel" and it having "changed classification in 2018" are with the link to the Fox News terms, not the link to the Media Bias chart. – reirab Nov 27 '19 at 16:34
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    @PaulJohnson - and that other answer's main source is someone's subjective opinion of source's reliability. I'm sure that someone is very unbiased, too. – user5341 Nov 29 '19 at 0:39
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It seems that there's a growing number of media analysts and academics who believe Fox News is now simply a propaganda mouthpiece rather than a partisan and opinionated news outlet:

https://www.cjr.org/tow_center/fox-news-partisan-progaganda-research.php

https://mobile.twitter.com/notstevenwhite/status/1056355564605882369

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/07/business/media/ralph-peters-fox-cnn.html

The article seems to be referencing this wider opinion.


There is some difficulty in going further with a more definite answer - you cannot rely on what Fox labels itself as - Fox News can call itself news, even if you might disagree with it. Similarly, with enough money, I could start a news channel and make leprechauns the culprit of every story.

Also, there isn't any kind of licence for a news organisation or journalist - pretty much anyone with resources and an audience can become a news outlet in most western democracies.

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    I'm aware of the reputation of Fox News, but the quote "changed classification in 2018" seems to suggest something more formal. – Paul Johnson Nov 21 '19 at 16:18
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    BBC also has lots of broadcasts which are blatantly propaganda mouthpieces. So according to this, should we call BBC as "not a news channel" as well? – vsz Nov 22 '19 at 5:08
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    @vsz I know of only one broadcast that could be called that, and that's because I specifically looked it up. This isn't really a false comparison, because the vast majority of the time the BBC isn't lying. – wizzwizz4 Nov 22 '19 at 7:21
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    @vsz Are you referring to BBC News or do you mean BBC channels in general? Also, can you cite some examples? "Bias" is one of those irregular verbs: I know the facts, you have opinions, he's biased, they've been brainwashed. – Paul Johnson Nov 22 '19 at 11:01
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    @wizzwizz4 It is possible to be a blatant propagandist without lying. You just cherry-pick the facts. – Paul Johnson Nov 22 '19 at 11:02

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