Rupert Murdoch, has indicated he is preparing to “hit back” at what he describes as the “lies” directed towards his business. Both the BBC and the Australian Financial Review have made serious allegations that News Corp has been involved in sabotaging its pay television competitors.
BBCs Panorama reported that a News subsidiary, NDS, had recruited a hacker to acquire the smart card codes of ITV’s ONdigital, the major pay TV rival to News Corp’s Sky TV network.
The Fairfax newspaper The Financial Review reports, meanwhile, suggested News Corp’s Australian targets were Optus and Austar, the subject of a takeover bid from Foxtel. While Mr Murdoch didn’t refer directly to the BBC or the Financial Review, he hit back via Twitter.
News Corp president Chase Carey also issued a terse statement, describing the BBC’s program as a “gross misrepresentation” of NDS’s activities. “Foxtel presentedmanipulated and mischaracterised emails to produce unfair and baseless accusations,” Mr Carey said. “News Corporation is proud to have worked with NDS and to have supported them in their aggressive fight against piracy and copyright infringement.”
It is the second time News Corp had denied the BBC allegations since the program aired.
NDS insists it has not sabotaged the commercial interests of any rival and says it recruited hackers to track and catch other hackers and pirates.
Federal Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull says News Limited is free to take legal action over the allegations. “News Limited has the right of every person who has been defamed to go to court,” Mr Turnbull said. “They can take proceedings in any jurisdiction where this material has been published and seek to have the matter determined and their name cleared.”
The Australian Federal Police says it has not received a referral to investigate allegations of corporate piracy in Australia’s pay TV industry. On Wednesday, Australia’s Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the accusations were serious and that any claims of criminal activity by News should be referred to federal police.