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Fox News to be offered as a free channel ‘during dangerous times’

“Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace with co-anchors Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier
“Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace with co-anchors Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier on the set of Fox News Channel’s Super Tuesday coverage in New York.
(Fox News)

Fox News will be made available free to viewers amid the coronavirus public health crisis.

On Wednesday, Rupert Murdoch’s media company said it would partner with cable and satellite TV providers to make Fox News Channel and its Fox TV stations widely available “to ensure that every person in America can access the latest national and local news regarding coronavirus.”

The company, based in New York and Los Angeles, said it would also offer free streams of Fox News Channel and programming feeds from Fox-owned TV stations.

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“Our highest duty as a company is to provide the individuals and communities we serve with information and analysis to help educate and protect them during dangerous times,” Fox Corp. Chief Executive Lachlan Murdoch, the media mogul’s oldest son, said in a statement. “That is why we are today making Fox News and Fox Television stations available to everyone in the country.”

The company’s journalists shifted into high gear earlier this month, even before the company endured withering criticism over comments of Fox News Media personalities, including Trish Regan, who dismissed coronavirus as a hoax perpetrated by Democrats to impeach President Trump.

Regan’s Fox Business Network show was put on hiatus. The newsroom began focusing on special reports on coronavirus in addition to its regular newscasts. Last Saturday and Sunday, the channel ran an hour-long show titled “Coronavirus Pandemic.”

It also provided lengthy coverage of news conferences by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, among others. This week, Fox News’ anchor Harris Faulkner has dedicated her 1 p.m. / ET program to answering questions about the crisis.

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The company said it would continue to produce nightly three-minute live special reports on coronavirus, anchored by Fox News’ Bill Hemmer, for its local Fox TV stations.

Much of Fox News Channel’s television audience is 60 and older, a demographic that is of heightened risk of experiencing acute effects of the coronavirus disease, COVID-19.

For the last year, Fox Corp. has been in transition after selling much of the company, including its legendary movie and television studios, and channels such as FX and National Geographic, to Walt Disney Co. for $71 billion.

Rupert Murdoch’s vision, carried out by his oldest son Lachlan Murdoch, is to reshape the company into a provider of live entertainment, namely news and sports. It has sought to be less dependent on scripted programming, although many scripted shows — including “The Simpsons,” “9-1-1,” and “Last Man Standing” — remain on the broadcast network.

But the cross-pollination of Fox News programming on Fox TV stations will probably continue after the virus threat dissipates.

In recent years, the company has stepped up its digital offerings in an effort to draw younger audiences. On Wednesday, Fox said as part of its initiative, Fox News would be available for free to consumers on FOXNews.com, FOX.com and Fox’s apps. Its 29 television stations, including KTTV-TV Channel 11 in Los Angeles, will be available for free on FOX.com and the FOX NOW app.


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