Fox Weather, the new 24-hour sister network of Fox News, is launching Monday and will strongly embrace climate change as part of its coverage, according to multiple press reports.
The all-weather channel will become a competitor to The Weather Channel and Accuweather, but will be available free on OTT systems and platforms.
"If you're asking about climate change, climate change is part of our lives," Sharri Berg, the Fox executive who will head the division, told Variety.
"It's how we live. It's not going to be ignored. We will be reporting facts."
It's inevitable that questions would be asked about how the fledgling network will handle the controversial subject of climate change, given Fox News Channel's long history of discounting it, reports The Washington Post.
Many of the new network's early hires are saying the network will have more of a focus on climate science, including Emmy-award-winning weather forecaster Amy Freeze from New York's ABC affiliate and Shane Brown, a former senior weather product expert from The Weather Channel.
“From hiring decisions to this rhetoric from their CEO, to this need to have a safe space for advertisers, it does suggest that they could very much embrace climate change in their programming,” Allison Fisher, the director of the climate and energy program at Media Matters, a liberal media watchdog group, told The Post.
But if Fox Weather does allow more focus on climate change, the network is running a risk of alienating core Fox News watchers and advertisers, she said.
"There is a line that they are going to have to walk to keep advertisers feeling like their brand is safe there but not going too far away from their base," said Fisher. "If something major happens, like a hurricane or a heatwave, all eyes are going to be looking to them to see how they are characterizing it."
Fox News, controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, has long allowed his outlets to cast skepticism on climate change claims and initiatives that would limit traditional carbon-based fuels.
But that editorial viewpoint appears to be changing.
As Murdoch's sprawling Australian media empire faced the possible loss of millions of dollars in ad revenue for not signing on to a liberal climate change agenda, his outlets did a 180-degree pivot.
In September, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Murdoch’s media companies were launching a campaign to promote the benefits of a carbon-neutral economy and back Australia’s zero-emissions goals set for 2050.
The pro-global warming policy is expected to reach Murdoch's other properties as well, including Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post, according to media experts.
The newfound emphasis on climate change may put Fox Weather at odds with Fox News’ traditional conservative base, many of whom harbor strong doubts as to the causes of global warming and potential remedies.
A 2019 Pew study found that 45% of conservative Republicans believed that climate change was a function of natural earth cycles, and another 39% believed humans only played “some” role in the phenomena.
Even more editorial changes could come at Fox when Murdoch, now 90, passes and leaves control to James Murdoch, his son, who has been a strong supporter of climate change initiatives.
Fox Weather will be an ad-supported streaming service that is reporting national and regional weather as well as regular forecasts and will rely on news reporting from Fox News Channel and from meteorologists from television stations owned by Fox nationwide.
Weather Channel owner Byron Allen said he's not concerned about competition from Rupert Murdoch, who he considers "one of the best of the best as far as media moguls."
Fox has invested more than $10 million into its new weather venture, which will include a staff of more than 100 people, including 40 meteorologists and contributions from another 120 meteorologists from Fox's network of television stations.
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