Australian lawmakers denounce Murdoch’s ‘troubling media monopoly’ in new report

But the committee did not ask News Corp to dilute or in any way cede its Australian interests, and instead made a number of recommendations, including the creation of a judicial inquiry into diversity, ownership. and media regulation.

The report says it is clear that the country’s media regulations are not “fit for purpose” and that significant changes are needed.

The investigation was launched after more than 500,000 people signed a petition launched by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd last year that called for a royal commission on News Corp’s outsized influence in Australian media.

The company owns two-thirds of the country’s metropolitan print banners and some of Australia’s most popular news sites. It also has radio interests in every state and territory, as well as a controlling stake in the Foxtel news network, which broadcasts Sky News.

The petition accused News Corp of using its power to “attack opponents in business and politics by mixing editorial opinion with reporting.” Rudd said he had personally experienced it during his tenure as Labor prime minister.

“Australians who hold opposing views have felt intimidated and forced into silence. These facts chill free speech and undermine public debate,” the petition says.

The Senate investigation cited a handful of examples it said demonstrated the extent of News Corps control.

The clearest example, according to the report, is how quickly the government reacted to News Corp’s change of course on climate change after years of political indecision.

“After nearly a decade of campaigning against the science of climate change and against policies to reduce carbon emissions, the editors of all Australian headlines at News Corp suddenly decided, at the same time, to take the lead. opposite position, “the report says.

This month of october, Murdoch-owned newspapers launched a “Mission Zero” campaign, calling on the country to adopt a policy to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, which Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison presented to the climate change talks of COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, November. It is now a key part of its electoral platform ahead of the next Australian election.

News Corp did not immediately respond to a CNN Business request for comment on the report.

But in a public hearing in February, Michael Miller, executive chairman of News Corp Australia, defended the company and accused Rudd of misleading the committee about how many stocks the company owns.

Miller said the diversity was not just about ownership, but also the diversity of opinions, which Australians could access online in “unlimited” volumes.

He said threats to media diversity must be addressed, but that they relate to government laws, not property.

“Too many laws threaten journalists with jail, too many documents are top secret and too many whistleblowers are being punished when they should be protected,” he said.

The report included two dissenting opinions, both from members of the ruling coalition government.

Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg called the recommendations “reckless” and said intervention in the private sector could ultimately undermine press freedom. National Senator Sam McMahon said calls for greater government involvement were disguised censorship.

In a statement, Rudd rejected the dissenting views, calling it “a deep disappointment that Liberal and National Senators have once again decided to go to bed with Murdoch against the Australian people and against our democracy.”

The statement recognized that governments “often try to ignore Senate recommendations,” and to that end, he said Australians for a Murdoch Royal Commission campaign group are launching a “fight fund” to ensure that the recommendation of the Senate committee “cannot be swept under the parliamentary carpet.”

Murdoch’s media empire spans the globe, and he has also come under scrutiny in the UK, where News Corp owns newspapers such as The Sun and The Times.

In 2017, British regulators spent months Investigating 21st Century Fox’s proposed $ 15 billion takeover of broadcaster Sky and its impact on the media market. The government has also looked into whether Fox will meet UK broadcast standards.
This agreement never materialized. Fox ultimately lost the battle for Sky at Comcast (CMCSA), while Disney (SAY) spent tens of billions of dollars to reclaim most of Fox’s assets, with the exception of Fox News Channel, Fox Sports, and the Fox Broadcast Network.

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