Since the Australian Financial Reviews investigation on a secret unit within News Corporation allegedly promoted Pay TV piracy, the News Limited newspapers have hit back hard.
News Ltd. CEO and former Foxtel CEO Kim Williams has called the allegations “so far-fetched as to be laughable”. In an email to News Limited’s 10,000 Australian employees yesterday, he said the reports were “highly misleading.”
Former News Corporation subsidiary, NEWS Datacom Systems (NDS) said in a statement, “These allegations – most of which are ten or more years old – were the subject of a long-running court case in the United States which concluded with NDS being totally vindicated of all allegations of piracy and its accuser having to pay almost $19m in costs.”
Ahead of a shareholder vote on the proposed Foxtel takeover today, Austar CEO John Porter said, “From what I can tell, (the AFR story) is built on a series of 14,000-plus emails that somebody is trying to connect the dots on in a way that, in my opinion, is not legitimate.
“We realised we did have a problem -as did Foxtel- and it took approximately a year and a half to fix it,” he tells The Australian.
“But it wasn’t material from a financial standpoint.
“It’s the nature of our business that people try to crack our encryption systems.
“We’re constantly trying to stay one step ahead — people at NDS would know that’s the way the system works.”
Meanwhile Rupert Murdoch tweeted angrily on the claims, raised in BBC’s Panorama story and the AFR.
“Seems every competitor and enemy piling on with lies and libels. So bad, easy to hit back hard, which preparing,” he tweeted.
In a second tweet he said: ”Enemies many different agendas, but worst old toffs and right wingers who still want last century’s status quo with their monoplies [sic].” Then in a third, he added: ”Let’s have it on, choice, freedom of thought and individual responsibility.”
News Corp chief operating officer Chase Carey also rebutted the claims on Panorama.
”Panorama presented manipulated and mischaracterised emails to produce unfair and baseless accusations,” he said. ”News Corp is proud to have worked with NDS and to have supported them in their aggressive fight against piracy and copyright infringement.”
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said, “If there is anyone who has in their possession material they think raises concerns about a criminal offence then they should refer it to the police.”
So far the AFP has not approached the AFR on the issue.