19 Sep 2011

News Corp target of media inquiry in Australia

9:22 am on 19 September 2011

The print and online media industry in Australia is the target of a new independent inquiry by the federal government in the wake of the phone tapping scandal in Britain.

Rupert Murdoch began his global media empire in Australia and his publications are still the most dominant there. News Corp controls 70% of the metropolitan print media.

However, the UK phone tapping scandal and the partisan nature of the Murdoch papers in Australia have led the Labor government to call an independent inquiry into print and online media.

The federal government insists that News Corp's dominance in ownership is not the issue of the inquiry, which will look into the regulatory framework for print media.

But Radio New Zealand's Sydney correspondent reports the truth is that the Greens, who Labor depends on for support, want Mr Murdoch's empire broken up.

Investors unhappy

Meanwhile, the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors, whose members manage about $A300 billion, have joined shareholders overseas in calling for a substantial shake-up of News Corporation's governance.

This includes replacing Mr Murdoch as chairman, conducting an independent investigation into the phone hacking scandal and appointing a majority of independent directors.

For all the claims of Mr Murdoch's success, Radio New Zealand's correspondent says News Corp has been a lousy investment this past decade, delivering a negative total return of more than 60% , against a positive 100% for the overall Australian market.