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News Ltd must answer questions: Gillard

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says News Ltd, the Australian arm of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, has some “hard questions” to answer after yesterday’s phone hacking scandal hearing in the UK.

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The Prime Minister said Australians had been “disturbed” by the uncovering of phone hacking in the UK. She added the company had a responsibility to “answer the questions when they’re asked”.

“When people have seen telephones hacked into, when people have seen individuals grieving have to deal with all of this, then I do think that causes them to ask some questions here in our country, some questions about News Ltd here,” she told reporters in NSW.

Last week News Ltd’s Australian CEO John Hartigan said the company would conduct a review of editorial spending over the past three years to confirm any payments made to third parties were for legitimate services.

Hartigan told staff he had “absolutely no reason” to suspect any malpractice had taken place at its newspapers or websites.

Gillard’s comments follow Mr Murdoch’s appearance before a parliamentary hearing in London yesterday during which the media mogul apologised for the hurt caused by the now-closed News of the World.

Mr Murdoch told MPs he was not responsible for the scandal that is threatening his global empire.

News Limited controls a large chunk of the Australian metropolitan and regional newspaper market, including national broadsheet The Australian, as well as having extensive internet assets.

The company also has a stake in broadcasters Sky News and Fox Sports, and is angling to run the international Australia Network TV channel.

Australia’s Greens party has called for a parliamentary review of the nation’s media, with News Limited saying it would co-operate with an inquiry, although it wants the scope of any probe to be clearly defined.

 

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