The rise and rise of Rupert Murdoch's Fox News has been enshrined in physical form with the award of a front-row seat in the White House briefing room to the caustic rightwing channel. Fox News has joined the three main TV networks, ABC, CBS and NBC, cable station CNN and news agencies AP and Reuters, in the coveted front row of the room, where daily press conferences are held. The seating arrangements are more than symbolic as it helps to determine who is called by Robert Gibbs, President Obama's press secretary, to ask questions. It marks something of a coming of age for the channel, which was formed in 1996 and has succeeded in shaking up the world of television news with its mix of highly partisan rightwing commentary and often heavily editorialised news. The channel has increasingly been making inroads against its competitors, notably the more politically moderate CNN. Opponents of Fox News drew comfort from the fact the channel did not gain its preferred position: the central front-row seat it had sought. That seat, previously occupied by veteran reporter Helen Thomas, went to the Associated Press. Two prominent liberal grassroots campaigns, Credo Action and Moveon.org, had organised a petition against Fox News being given the central seat. Credo Action said almost 500,000 people had backed the protest.