News Corp denies smart card piracy claims

Company president Chase Carey says allegations that it sabotaged satellite TV rivals in UK and Australia are "baseless".

    The president of  News Corporation has denied allegations that the media giant promoted pirating to damage its satellite television rivals after a series of allegations in Britain and Australia.

    The Rupert Murdoch-owned company has been accused of setting up a secret unit via a subsidiary company called NDS which is alleged to have pirated copies of its rivals' smart cards.

    The Australian Financial Review alleged NDS had sabotaged competitors Austar and Optus at a time when News Corp was moving to take control of the Australian pay-TV industry.

    The BBC investigative programme Panorama made similar allegations against the company in Britain, where the company is already under fire over a phone-hacking scandal at its newspapers business.

    But Chase Carey on Thursday rejected the allegations.

    "The BBC's Panorama programme was a gross misrepresentation of NDS's role as a high quality and leading provider of technology and services to the pay-TV industry, as are many of the other press accounts that have piled on, if not exaggerated, the BBC's inaccurate claims," he said.

    "Panorama presented manipulated and mischaracterised emails to produce unfair and baseless accusations. News Corporation is proud to have worked with NDS and to have supported them in their aggressive fight against piracy and copyright infringement."

    'Lies and libels'

    Murdoch, News Corp's chairman, said on Twitter: "Seems every competitor and enemy piling on with the lies and libels. So bad, easy to hit back, which preparing."

    The BBC accused NDS of leaking information from British broadcaster On Digital, a rival to News Corp's BSkyB, which could be used to create counterfeit smart cards, giving people free access to cable television. On Digital collapsed in 2002.

    NDS categorically rejected the claims and in a letter to the BBC, released Thursday, the company's executive chairman Abe Peled said the broadcaster "seriously misconstrued legitimate activities we undertake".

    "The fact that you relied on manipulated email chains, without checking their authenticity with us prior to broadcast, demonstrates a flagrant disregard to the BBC's broadcasting code, misleading viewers and inciting widespread misreporting."

    He said the programme had been "deeply damaging" to NDS and News Corp and called on the BBC to retract the allegations immediately.

    No police referral

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

    "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," said Julia Gillard, the prime minister.

    Stephen Conroy, the communications minister, 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."

    Angus Grigg, one of the Financial Review reporters who investigated the story, said his newspaper had published 14,400 emails which gave a systematic account of the inner workings of a News Corp subsidiary who carried out the hacking.

    “What they are essentially showing is that there was a systematic campaign within News Corp to hack into the systems of its commercial rivals," Grigg told Al Jazeera.

    "They were encouraging and fostering hackers to crack the codes of smart cards for paid television, which allows viewers to receive a signal from satellite or cable television - to crack the codes of its rival pay TV companies for its own commercial gains."between the media and the upper elements of the establishment.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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