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Murdoch under spotlight in Australia

Australian Greens leader Bob Brown has taken another swipe at the Murdoch empire, warning that media ownership laws in Australia are too lax.


Senator Brown is stepping up calls for a ramp-up of media scrutiny, in light of the News of the World scandal in Britain.

Media magnate Rupert Murdoch was forced to close down his 168-year-old UK tabloid following revelations it hacked into the phone of a teenage murder victim during a police investigation.

The scandal also cost Mr Murdoch his bid to acquire control of pay-TV giant BSkyB.

Senator Brown, who recently dubbed some Australian newspapers belonging to the Murdoch empire as “hate media” over their climate change reporting, said he wanted a Senate inquiry looking into media ownership and industry ethics.

He said he had no evidence of illegal behaviour by journalists in Australia.

But he wants a timely review of media practices, media ownership and the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance’s code of ethics.

Senator Brown said media ownership was too heavily concentrated in Australia.

“You do have less choice in Australia when you go to buy a newspaper. You can’t avoid Murdoch-owned newspapers in a number of Australian cities,” he told ABC Radio on Thursday.

Senator Brown said his call for an inquiry was not revenge over an alleged campaign by News Limited papers against the Greens.

“With press freedom comes responsibility.”

Senator Brown questioned whether some pockets of media were upholding a code of ethics that said journalists should not allow personal interests to undermine accuracy, fairness and independence.

His comments come a day after the Australian arm of News Corp announced a review of its editorial expenditure over the last three years, as pressure piled on Rupert Murdoch.

News Limited chairman John Hartigan said the review would be conducted to reassure the public that illegal phone-hacking practices which felled British tabloid the News of the World had not taken place among his newspapers.

The Australian-listed shares in News Corp dived another three percent Wednesday, adding to the 4.5 percent slump Tuesday which sent shares to their lowest point in more than 18 months, as the fallout from the scandal deepened.

“Some media outlets, certain commentators and some politicians have attempted to connect the behaviour in the UK with News Limited’s conduct in Australia,” Hartigan said in a statement to staff.

“This is offensive and wrong.”

But Hartigan said News Limited would conduct a “thorough review of all editorial expenditure over the past three years to confirm that payments to contributors and other third parties were for legitimate services.”

Read more on the review here.


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