Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called for News Corp Australia to be held to account after describing the organisation as “the most powerful political actor in Australia”.
Fronting a media diversity inquiry on Monday, Turnbull claimed News Corp Australia had surpassed both the Coalition and Labor as the nation’s most powerful political force.
The former PM, who blames News Corp for its role as a key player in his removal as PM in 2018 and was a recent backer of former Labor PM Kevin Rudd’s call for a Royal Commission on media diversity, was scathing in his criticism of the news organisation.
He claimed that unlike political parties, News Corp’s media business was unaccountable to the Australian public.
“This is the fundamental problem that we’re facing: the most powerful political actor in Australia is not the Liberal Party or the National Party or the Labor Party—it is News Corp, and it’s utterly unaccountable.” Turnbull said via video link.
“It’s controlled by an American family and their interests are no longer, if they ever were, coextensive with our own.”
Turnbull also amplified his claim that News Corp “thugs” had driven him from a climate job for the NSW government just days after being appointed as chairman of the NSW Net Zero Emissions and Clean Economy board.
He said he is concerned that news is being narrowcasted and information is being targeted for a niche audience.
“There is now a market for crazy,” he said.
“If you doubt the significance of this, just reflect on the damage that Murdoch’s publications and outlets particularly in the United States have done to democracy there.”
In addition, Turnbull alleged that Rupert Murdoch had “acknowledged” that his outlets were running a “crazy agenda” against the Turnbull government so they could install Tony Abbott as leader again.
B&T has contacted News Corp Australia for comment.
Turnbull’s comments came as part of the Australian Senate’s media diversity inquiry, which was spurred on by Kevin Rudd’s call for a royal commission into the influence of Rupert Murdoch’s media business in Australia, which garnered more than 500,000 signatures.
The former PM’s comments before the Senate also arrived as a new media ownership report commissioned by GetUp! shows just three companies direct nearly all of Australia’s media landscape.
News Corp owns 59 per cent of the metro and national print media markets by readership, up from 25 per cent in 1984, while Nine Entertainment is the second-largest media owner with a combined readership share of 23 per cent.
News Corp also earns 40 per cent of television revenues and is part of a profitable trio—with Nine and Southern Cross Austereo—controlling 90 per cent of metro radio licences.
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