While Others Sleep, Avaaz Looks Out for the Interests of the British Public


The latest decision by British media regulator Ofcom has led to disagreement, and the organization Avaaz is at the top of the list of the most fervent critics. The controversy is over the matter involving 21st Century Fox. Ofcom determined that the mass media corporation is “fit and proper” and able to own the satcaster Sky. Because of this, Avaaz filed a legal challenge against Ofcom in September, and it was approved by the high court. The challenge is questioning the judgment of this decision.

Last June, Ofcom submitted a report to the British government that stated that there wasn’t any reason to deny Fox the ability to take over Sky because the Murdochs were deemed to be “fit and proper.” Avaaz particularly disagreed with Ofcom’s neglect of the content on Fox News and the Murdoch family’s corporate governance failures. They also stated that the court made it too easy for the Murdoch family to merge its company with Sky.

Avaaz wrote a letter to Ofcom on August 21 in which it stated that it was requesting legal intervention. The organization suggested that Ofcom retract its June report so that it can revisit the issue of the merger because the government agency erred in its evaluation of racial and sexual harassment accusations that were made against Fox. The group also claimed that the definition Ofcom used for “fit and proper” was not broad enough.

The next step Avaaz took was to file legal documents with the British High Court of Justice. At that time, Avaaz campaign director Alex Wilks made a statement. In the statement, he said that the Murdochs’ business practices must be involved in something highly sleazy judging by the many scandals that have surrounded them. The investigation that Ofcom did was not thorough enough for them to adequately determine that the Murdochs were worthy of being owners of more British media.

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The regulator stated that Avaaz’s lawsuit didn’t have any merit, but a judge has ruled that it does. This judge stated that the issues that were being raised in this case deserved to be heard as quickly as possible.

An Ofcom spokesperson stated that the agency will support its ruling that the Murdochs are “fit and proper” because they say that the determination was made expertly and independently after a thorough examination of the evidence.

The Murdochs believed that the question of their fitness to be the majority owner of Sky had been resolved, but the latest decision could bring it up again. Fox is attempting to purchase 60.9 percent of Sky. It currently owns 39.1 percent. If Avaaz prevails in the present case, Ofcom will be required to examine this matter again, and this would mean that a final decision on the bid would have to be delayed. The judge is expecting to rule on this matter in June.

Avaaz CEO Ricken Patel has stated that anyone could be determined to be “fit and proper” to hold broadcasting licenses if a company that has been hacked, accused of sexual harassment and bribed people not to talk has been determined to be “fit and proper.”

Ricken Patel informed the public that licensing standards are now in the trash because of Ofcom’s decision, and they arrived at that point because exceptions were made to allow the Murdochs to pass the “fit and proper” test. He stated that the decision must cause the Murdochs to believe that they can get away with anything, but the court has let Ofcom know that it cannot.

After the controversy began, 21st Century Fox offered to make the editorial independence of Sky News stronger so that the merger could go forward.

The Competition and Markets Authority expressed its opinion on this merger in January. The group opined that 21st Century Fox’s quest to take over Sky wouldn’t be in the British public’s best interests. The merger would give an inordinate amount of power to Rupert Murdoch and his family who already own British newspapers The Sun and The Times of London. The CMA investigated this matter, and it decided that concerns about media plurality would prevent this merger from being good for the British public. At the same time, the authority stated that the body isn’t concerned that U.K. broadcasting standards wouldn’t be met, so this strengthens Ofcom’s case.

Avaaz fights for freedom in unique ways

Who Is Avaaz?

Avaaz is a civic organization that seeks to bring people all over the world together to further its mission. Its mission is to change the world that we are living in today into the world that most people dream that it will be in the future. The causes that the organization concentrates on include climate change, poverty, conflict and corruption, and they hope to reach people on a regional, national and global level. The group uses the internet as its main source of communication, and this makes it possible for more people to make a difference while taking large or small steps.


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