News24

No police referral in News Corp 'piracy'

2012-03-29 14:01

Sydney - The Australian government on Thursday said it had no plans to refer allegations of corporate piracy by News Corp to police, but suggested the newspaper that made the claims do so if it had evidence.

Rupert Murdoch's company has been accused of having a secret unit that promoted pirating of pay-TV rivals.

The Australian Financial Review alleged News Corp sabotaged its competitors by promoting high-tech piracy that damaged Austar and Optus at a time when News Corp was moving to take control of the Australian pay-TV industry.

It follows the BBC's flagship current affairs show Panorama on Monday making similar charges against the company in Britain, and piles the pressure on News Corp, which is already under siege over a phone-hacking scandal.

"If there is anyone who has in their possession material that they think raises concern about a criminal offence then they should refer it to the police," Prime Minister Julia Gillard said when asked about the expose.

The newspaper, which belongs to News rival Fairfax, said its evidence was unearthed during a four-year investigation and released 14 000 e-mails concerning one of the group's security subsidiaries.

Baseless accusations

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the government had not been in touch with police but suggested the paper do so.

"We have not referred anything to the federal police. The federal police have already said publicly they have not received any referral," he said.

"If there is any evidence of that [criminal conduct], the Australian Financial Review should put it to the federal police."

The newspaper was not immediately available for comment.

News Corp has denied any role in fostering piracy in pay television and its Australian arm News Limited said the report was "full of factual inaccuracies, flawed references, fanciful conclusions and baseless accusations".

News Limited reported that the Australian Federal Police had been assisting their British counterparts in relation to the phone hacking scandal since July last year.