Thursday 9th of February 2023

rabbit stew...

rabbit stew for dinner...
The Murdoch Style, Under Pressure


Risk-taking and line-skirting have always been just one more cost of doing business for Rupert Murdoch.

But the widening voice-mail hacking scandal at the British tabloid News of the World threatens to stain the company’s image in a way that other embarrassing incidents at News Corporation’s far-flung media properties — which also include the Fox networks and The New York Post — have not.

In the past, Mr. Murdoch has either outlasted his critics or acted swiftly to limit the fallout. And on Wednesday he was in damage-control mode again. The company moved quickly to denounce the hacking and announce its intention to cooperate with the police, but the damage was proving difficult to contain.

There is a growing consensus within the company that Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International and onetime editor who has become the focus of much of the outrage over the hacking, will be forced out of her job, according to people with knowledge of discussions inside News Corporation.

The possibility of firing Ms. Brooks is one that several people close to Mr. Murdoch said he was fiercely resisting because he was loyal to her and viewed the campaign against her as a vendetta by the company’s political enemies.

One of these people, who did not want to be identified discussing internal matters, said there was also a belief within the company that Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor who was forced to quit as communications director to the British prime minister, will also come under increasing scrutiny.

So far the harm has been limited to the company’s reputation. The News Corporation does not yet face heavy financial losses, even as the advertiser boycott of The News of the World grows. Still, the company’s shares dropped 3.6 percent on Wednesday to $17.47, after rising for most of the year. The episode could threaten the biggest deal on the News Corporation’s plate: British approval of its complete takeover of BSkyB, the satellite television company.

David Bank, a media analyst for RBC Capital Markets, said the hacking scandal had so far been a blip in the company’s vast business holdings.


The toon at top represents the fight that Murdoch had with the "mighty Rabbitohs" and in the background the name that cannot be mentioned "Vivendi"... Aware people would know of some of the tactics used by Mr M for getting his ways... Uncle Rupe exploitation of the rabid rightwing, such as on FOX news, is by no mean a full representation of his views... It's a way of making money and getting a great amount of influence at the same time. He brought you the movie "Avatar" — a movie that many rightwing opinionators see as a full-blown communist plot... Uncle Rupe is a fierce gambler like his granddad Rupert Greene... He can be philantropic yet "he" fights like a dog if there is a bone in it. When I say "he", I mean the way he trains his troops... With the News of The World, his troops have scored an own goal... He will take it on the chin while burning a bit of personal midnight oil...

still bearing the scars...



hacked actor hugh grant...

It originally started with allegations involving prominent British figures, including actors and politicians.

Hugh Grant, a British actor, says he believes he was a victim of phone hacking by the newspaper.

He detailed in the New Statesman magazine how he taped conversations with a former News of the World employee who told him his phone had been hacked to find out if there was more to the story.

Grant talks to Al Jazeera about his experience.


When David Cameron hired Andy Coulson as the UK government media mouthpiece, one could ask if it was as a favour to Uncle Rupe for having supported him in the elections... Furthermore, in any circumstances, despite the greatest of ethics one should not be comfortable with someone who has been an employee of an organisation with an agenda, that this person won't try to steer the mind of pollies towards satisfying that agenda — and secretly reporting about the progress on any other public issues of interest, directly to a former private employer, especially one with the clout of Uncle Rupe...

not only my opinion...

(see my opinion above)

The Daily Telegraph carries the latest twist in the phone-hacking scandal today - claiming that phone numbers of relatives of dead British service personnel were found in the files of the News of the World's hacker-in-chief, private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

So, not only was someone at the Sunday tabloid happy to hack into the voicemail of murder victim Milly Dowler, of the parents of the murdered Soham twins, and relatives of victims of the 7/7 terrorist attacks, but they were also prepared to invade the privacy of families grieving over sons and daughters lost on the frontline in Afghanistan.

The Telegraph also runs a punchy column by Peter Oborne claiming that David Cameron's associations with News International have "permanently and irrevocably damaged his reputation".

Oborne writes: "He should never have employed Andy Coulson, the News of the World editor, as his director of communications. He should never have cultivated Rupert Murdoch. And ­ the worst mistake of all ­ he should never have allowed himself to become a close friend of Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of the media giant News International, whose departure from that company in shame and disgrace can only be a matter of time."

Read more:,news-comment,news-politics,blame-it-on-vince-cable-and-the-telegraph-girls#ixzz1RPeHCAmj

The main agenda here being the sale of BSkyB...
Meanwhile at the pollies lounge:

The tyrants lose their swagger and those that lived in fear dare to speak out. The dynamics of the News International saga are similar to the ones that shape the fall of dictatorial regimes, except in this case it is some mighty media executives who are suddenly fearful and the politicians who are liberated.

Yesterday's exchanges in the Commons were ones I thought I would never witness. They are of historic importance. Senior elected politicians dared to challenge the powerful Murdoch empire and there was an air of catharsis as they did so.


... Yet why Am I feeling that the game isn't over... Should Murdoch gets what he really want —BSkyB — he really doesn't care about the hooplah about the NotW... He would know it's a rag doing raggy things. TV is far more manipulative — and profitable.

message to staff...

From the News of the World Editor, Colin Myler's message to staff


Dear Colleague

I know you will be as appalled as I am by claims that a private investigator working for the News of the World intercepted the voicemails of Milly Dowler, victims of the 7/7 atrocity and others.

We are urgently trying to establish the truth of these allegations which, if proved, would amount to the most unimaginable breach of journalistic ethics.

Understandably, there is a great deal of anger directed towards this newspaper as a result of what happened in some cases as far back as nine years ago

While this is unfair and extremely upsetting for all of you who had nothing to do with these activities, we have to accept and deal with those criticisms.

Inevitably, there is an extremely painful period ahead while we get to the bottom of these issues and atone for the wrong doing that took place in the past.

But please be aware that I am extremely proud of your loyalty and commitment , the work we have done, and continue to do, to ensure that nothing like this should happen again. I am also proud of the great, honest, journalism that continues to win awards and make a positive difference to people's lives.


The voice from papa Murdoch is barely hidden in these undertones that are smoothing the corners of bad deeds into a few bad apples in the litter and sprinkling angel dust on the rest... "Make a positive difference to people's lives..." Yes. This is enlightenment... That's the spirit... Great! As long as 80 per cent of the stories have titillating nude people showing their tits and their bottom (well, with at least some thin lingerie or some post-it notes on the censored bits)...


Then the voice of smooth continues in a News International CEO Rebekah Brooks' letter to staff:

When I wrote to you last week updating you on a number of business issues I did not anticipate having to do so again so soon.

However, I wanted to address the company as a matter of urgency in light of the new claims against the News of the World.

We were all appalled and shocked when we heard about these allegations yesterday.

I have to tell you that I am sickened that these events are alleged to have happened.

Not just because I was Editor of the News of the World at the time, but if the accusations are true, the devastating effect on Milly Dowler's family is unforgivable.

Our first priority must be to establish the full facts behind these claims. I have written to Mr and Mrs Dowler this morning to assure them News International will vigorously pursue the truth and that they will be the first to be informed of the outcome of our investigation.

Our lawyers have also written to their solicitor Mark Lewis to ask him to show us any of the evidence he has so we can swiftly take the appropriate action.

At the moment we only know what we have read.


"Yep... show us the (your) evidence so we (News International and NI lawyers) can counter-act and build our defense with as much jargon and legal clout as possible... to show you we were not responsible for who-done-it..."

Here, at yourdemocracy, we shall wait for the true "facts" with no illusions... If I had evidence, I'd be "shitting" myself scared.

Having seen News Limited in legal action before, I know the bastion of Uncle Rupe is well guarded... It was only breached by the Rabbitohs who fought like rabid dogs, destroying many of their own good people in the process — but soon after, the News Limited wall of supreme innocence was rebuilt.

notw front page


Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has killed off the News of the World in a shock move as a spiralling scandal over phone hacking at the British tabloid threatened to infect the rest of his empire.

In a fittingly sensational finale, the 168-year-old paper will print its last edition on Sunday after claims that it hacked the phones of a murdered girl and the families of dead soldiers, and that it paid police for stories.

"Having consulted senior colleagues, I have decided that we must take further decisive action with respect to the paper," said Murdoch's son James, chairman of News International, the British newspaper wing of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

"This Sunday will be the last issue of the News of the World," he added.

The final edition would be free of advertising and proceeds would go "to causes and charities that wish to expose their good works to our millions of readers", he said in a statement.

"These are strong measures. They are made humbly and out of respect. I am convinced they are the right thing to do.

Read more:

NotW DEADED brief...


Meanwhile at the barricades:...

Move to Close Newspaper Is Greeted With Suspicion

By and

The News Corporation’s decision to shut down the British tabloid The News of the World on Thursday did little to silence the growing uproar over revelations that the newspaper had hacked into the voice mails of private citizens.

In fact, it may have only fueled the outrage.

An outpouring of suspicion and condemnation came from all directions on Thursday, and was directed chiefly at the News Corporation’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch, a figure as powerful as he is polarizing.

The British media establishment, Facebook and Twitter users and even Mr. Murdoch’s own employees questioned his move. Some said it was a ploy to salvage government approval of the News Corporation’s potentially lucrative controlling stake in the satellite company British Sky Broadcasting, or BSkyB. Others saw it as merely a rebranding.

There are already indications that The News of the World may be reconstituted in some form. People with ties to the company said Thursday that the News Corporation had for some time been examining whether to start a Sunday edition for its other British tabloid, The Sun.

The demise of The News of the World, which publishes only on Sundays, would seem to create the opportunity for that, these people said, speaking anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Mr. Murdoch’s News International is the largest national newspaper publisher in Britain, a status that affords him tremendous economic and political influence. In addition to publishing The News of the World and The Sun, News International owns The Times of London, a smaller but more prestigious paper.

The News of the World has a circulation of 2.7 million, a size that gives News International scale with advertisers and a dominance in the market that analysts say Mr. Murdoch is unlikely to want to see diminished.

dancing so soon on the grave...

From first to last, for 168 years, the News of the World prospered by selling scandal, crime and titillation to the masses.

It wrecked careers, ruined marriages and embarrassed the royal family over and over.

If it couldn't find a scandal, it created one - snaring some gullible celebrities through the wiles of its famed "Fake Sheikh", Mazer Mahmood.

There will be much dancing on the newspaper's grave.

Last year, the newspaper, also known in the media by its acronym of NOTW, recorded Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, as she offered to sell access to her former husband, Prince Andrew.

In 2005, Mahmood got Princess Michael of Kent to ventilate some sensational opinions including her view that Princess Diana was "bitter" and "nasty".

Read more:

saving the captain, sinking the ship...

Prominent UK media lawyer Mark Stephens says he thinks the Murdochs will protect Ms Brooks.

"We have to remember that people like Rebekah Brooks are treated as family by the Murdochs, particularly Rupert Murdoch and I think she will perhaps go to one of his titles in America or Australia and will continue her good work from there," he said.

Mr Stephens says News of the World's closure is a stroke of "evil genius" by Mr Murdoch to save himself, his son and Ms Brooks.

"He has preserved Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks, his three key senior executives and they've kind of climbed in a life raft and allowed the rest of the people to go down with the ship that they've scuttled," he said.

"Of course as they've scuttled this ship, the News of the World, what goes down with it are all the documents, the new and the electronic files which might cause embarrassment and all the rest of it and so they will never see the light of day as a result of that."

Disgruntled staff like News of the World political editor Dave Wooding say they have been sacrificed to save Ms Brooks.

"There's hardly anybody there who was there in the old regime," he said.

"The people are very clean, great, talented professional journalists and we put out a great paper every week and we are all paying the price of what happened six years ago."

Sceptics say the tabloid's closure and News International's cooperation with the police investigation has more to do with the Murdoch empire's bid to take over the satellite broadcaster, BSkyB.

a member of the hacked club


Jemima Khan:


Last week, I received the "Operation Weeting Enquiry [sic] Questionnaire", 14 pages of questions designed to ascertain whether or not my phone was hacked by journalists at the now defunct News of the World. Five years ago, the Hackees Club, with its 28 members, seemed more exclusive than the Royal Enclosure. Over the past few months, the list of the hacked has begun to read more like a PR's Rolodex. It included actors, PR agents, secretaries, footballers, TV presenters, even journalists.

That initial figure, it transpires, represented less than 1 per cent of those who were probably hacked. There are, apparently, 4,000 names in Glenn Mulcaire's notebook alone. Then the whole issue became a great deal more serious, when it was revealed that the victims of child murder and acts of terror, war heroes, army generals and high court judges were also among those that were hacked. The only hearteningly karmic aside this week was that George Osborne – the man who persuaded Cameron to employ the former News of the World editor Andy Coulson – was also one of his victims.

The first page of the questionnaire asks for my name, date of birth, alias, nickname and accent, with helpful multiple choice options: "American, Asian, Australian, Birmingham..." and space for my details of up to six addresses and four mobile phone numbers. Was it designed for Rupert Murdoch himself? There follows a series of questions set out over nine pages, essentially asking why I have reason to believe that my phone may have been hacked.

a credit to the kitchen...

But numerous questions are still left hanging. There are two important ones: who are these "wrongdoers" whose actions caused the death of one of the most famous newspapers in the world? And how on earth can the executives responsible for this mess possibly convince themselves, let alone a sceptical outside world, that they are the right team to clean it up now? If Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International, was not herself one of the "wrongdoers" then she was guilty of such editorial blindness and managerial ineptitude that she should resign. Mr Murdoch's statement praises the "loyal staff … whose good work is a credit to journalism". But the blunt conclusion is: they go, she stays.


Gus: the answer to this is quite simple: Rebekah Brooks would know a lot more about the way News operates than all the staff of the NotW combined... She has been annointed to the inner kitchen and her knowledge of making the secret soup cannot become general knowledge... Imagine that Murdoch lets her go!!! Her resentment at being dumped would be massive... Her bitterness — unless Uncle Rupe would paid a huge amount of shut up money tantamount to a king's ransom — would most likely push her to sell and reveal the secrets she garnered from the inner sanctum...


In a meeting with angry News of the World staff on Friday, Ms Brooks hinted that a new round of revelations due to emerge had forced the publisher to shut the paper.

''We have more visibility perhaps on what we can see coming our way than you guys can, and - look I can only - I'm tied because of the criminal investigation in what I can say, but I think in a year's time every single one of you in this room might come up and say, 'OK, well I see what you saw now.'''

Ms Brooks added: ''Eventually it will come out why things went wrong and who was responsible and that will be another very difficult moment in this company's history.''

She insisted that her resignation would not have saved the paper.

Read more:


clouds over the sun...

He said News International had attempted to interfere in his government's policy on the BBC, on the media regulator Ofcom and generally in pursuit of their commercial interests.

"We stood up to News International and refused to support their commercial ambitions when we thought they were against the public interest." He suggested this was part of the reason why its newspapers had attacked his government.

"News International pursued an incredibly aggressive agenda in the last year. News International were distorting the news in a way that was designed to pursue a particular political cause. This was an abuse of their power for political gain.

"The record will show that some people at News International abused their power. There is absolutely no doubt that News International were trying to influence policy. This is an issue about the abuse of political power as well as the abuse of civil liberties."

for those interested in the rabbits...

How the first league war unfolded:


and :

One condition of the peace agreement between the ARL and News Limited was that there would be a 14 team competition in 2000. The 20 clubs that played in 1998 would be assessed on various items such as sponsorship, crowds, on-field success and the like. It was also announced that clubs that merged would receive a large sum of money, as well as a guaranteed position in the 2000 NRL Competition. The St. George Dragons and the Illawarra Steelers were the first clubs to take up the offer, forming the joint-venture St. George Illawarra Dragons at the end of the 1998 season.

The 1999 NRL Grand Final brought about a new official world record attendance for a game of rugby league. 107,999 spectators saw the Melbourne Storm defeat the newly-created St. George Illawarra Dragons in the decider at Stadium Australia.

Balmain and Western Suburbs formed the joint-venture club, the Wests Tigers at the end of 1999, while North SydneyManly-Warringah created the ill-fated Northern Eagles. As part of another image makeover, a number of teams also released new club logos. The most notable of these was the Sydney Roosters, dropping the and City section of their name for the 2000 season and beyond. Souths were controversially axed from the competition at the end of 1999 for failing to meet the criteria.

This move was highly controversial and on 12 November 2000 approximately 80,000 marched in protest at their continued exclusion. South Sydney challenged the decision in the Federal Court claiming that the NRL agreement was exclusionary, intended to unfairly exclude South Sydney, and breached the Trade Practices Act. Justice Paul Finn ruled that the agreement did not specifically exclude any club and dismissed the Rabbitohs' claims for re-instatement into the national competition. Souths appealed this decision and were re-admitted into the competition in 2002.

The Auckland Warriors experienced much financial hardship in the early part of the decade, ultimately collapsing before being resurrected as the New Zealand Warriors for the 2001 season. They made the Grand Final in 2002.

In 2001, Australia's largest telecommunications provider Telstra became naming rights sponsor of the NRL, with the competition's name becoming the NRL Telstra Premiership, while in 2002 David Gallop took over the CEO role from David Moffett, and the competition has become more and more popular each season.

In 2001 the NRL Grand Final started to be played on Sunday nights, a shift from the traditional Sunday afternoon slot used for over a decade prior.


Those who are in the know, would say that News Ltd (Murdoch) did not like South Sydney one bit... South was a Club that is to say it was not a "business" making a profit. The Rabbitohs made ends meet and posted zero profit every year. One had the feeling that Murdoch hated them (despite South Sydney being a foundation club of the league in 1908)... Thus those who are in the know would suggest that the "criteria" to be part of the combined league were designed to make sure South Sydney would not make the cut... Clubs like Cronulla and Canterbury were getting oodles of cash from News Ltd... But I have the iffy feeling that when Penrith (unofficially that is) was the last club to be axed, Murdoch (secretly?) added some cash to it to make it past the post ahead of the Rabbitohs... The Rabbitohs took News, the ARL and the NRL to court and eventually won a hard battle... It took a massive toll on the South Sydney management. I can say here, if my memory is correct, that Alan Jones (not a board member at the time but see him of this site in regard to other subjects such as global warming) was preparing the ground for the Rabbitohs to merge with Canberra, while others (mostly politicians and they shall remain nameless) wanted to enforce a merger with Cronulla... But George Piggins, the CEO at the time, decided it was more honourable to fight News Ltd and die rather than merge with the riff-raff who had taken the silver from Murdoch...

The rest is history. Including the war between Murdoch plus others versus Kerry Stokes in regard to C7...

grass on rupert...

Today, Emmel is described by his lawyers as destitute. Jobless and in debt, he was discharged from bankruptcy last year. He does occasional consultancy work that last month brought in $500, and this month, court documents show, will probably produce nothing. His wife's earnings raise monthly household income to about $3,000 – half their outgoings.

This is a cautionary tale about what can happen to someone who dares to become a corporate whistleblower. Or, more specifically, someone who incurs the wrath of News Corporation, the media empire owned by Rupert Murdoch, of which News America forms a part.

Emmel's lawyer, Philip Hilder, has had a ringside seat at the gradual unravelling of his client's life. A former federal prosecutor based in Houston, Texas, Hilder is well versed in whistleblower cases having represented Sherron Watkins, who helped uncover the Enron scandal. Hilder said: "News America has engaged in Rambo litigation tactics. They have a scorched earth policy, and it's taken a huge toll on him."

News Corp has devoted the efforts of up to 29 lawyers to pursuing Emmel personally, at a cost estimated at more than $2m. Emmel, by contrast, has relied on two lawyers, Hilder and Marc Garber in Atlanta, working for no pay since January 2009.

Attention has been focused on News Corporation's activities in the UK, where the News of the World phone-hacking scandal has led to the arrest of 10 people associated with the company. In the US, oversight of News Corp is gathering pace with the department of justice and the FBI looking into the company, while senators are considering launching committee hearings into News Corp practices.

One incident that US investigators are exploring is the hacking of a website run by one of News America's rivals, an instore advertising business called Floorgraphics. The firm discovered that its password-protected site had been breached from an IP address at News America's offices in Connecticut. News America has condemned the breach as a "violation of the standards of our company" but says it does not know how it happened.

of cost and hacks...

Closing the News of the World cost Rupert Murdoch's News Corp $91m (£57.2m), the company has announced.

The tabloid, the most profitable newspaper in Murdoch's portfolio, was shut in July amid an escalating investigation into illegal phone hacking at the company that has cast doubt on the 80-year-old Murdoch's succession plans. The scandal has triggered investigations into the company on both sides of the Atlantic, the resignation of senior executives and more than a dozen arrests.

Last month, independent shareholders overwhelmingly voted to have James Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer and head of the division that oversaw the UK title, and his brother Lachlan booted off the board.

Announcing the latest quarterly earnings, Chase Carey, News Corp's chief operating officer, said: "We have great confidence in James. James has done a good job. We are not contemplating any changes." He said he took the views of shareholders seriously but was "proud" of News Corp's board and the work it had done.

Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of the company, was not on the call with press and analysts.


More than ten years ago, if my memory is correct, during the ARL and Australian Super League war, Murdoch lost about $750 million... See toon at top...

proud as a monopoly...

"Few people have contributed as much as John to the quality of journalism in Australia. He has earned enormous respect among both colleagues and competitors."

Mr Hartigan said in the same statement: "I am immensely proud of News. I am privileged to have worked for such a great company. I want to thank the many colleagues that have helped, encouraged, inspired and challenged me to be the best I can be."

The New York-based Mr Murdoch personally delivered the news of Mr Hartigan's resignation during a visit to Australia.

It comes just days after the company held its in-house awards night on Friday, attended by Mr Murdoch, at which Mr Hartigan admitted the current economic conditions had been tough for the company.

"Like most companies, we have been tested by a tough economy," he was quoted as saying in News Ltd's The Australian. "But unlike most others, we've had to endure unprecedented and unwarranted slurs on our integrity. Our reputation has come under renewed and relentless attack."

The announcement came after the close of trade on the Australian stock exchange, with News Ltd shares closing flat at $17.12.

The removal of News Corp's most senior executive in Australia comes amid a time of turmoil for the company, which has seen its British division - News International - come under intense scrutiny over the phone hacking scandal that brought about the downfall of British tabloid the News of the World.

Read more:

surveillance for NOtW

A private detective has claimed that the News of the World paid him to target more than 90 people, including Prince William, former attorney general Lord Goldsmith and Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe's parents, over eight years until this July.

Derek Webb, a former police officer, said he started work for the paper shortly after setting up his private detective agency in 2003. He told the BBC's Newsnight he continued to do surveillance until it was closed over the phone-hacking scandal.

The investigator said he was paid by the paper to follow more than 90 targets including Prince William, Goldsmith, Radcliffe's parents and Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker.

"I was working for them extensively on many jobs throughout that time. I never knew when I was going to be required. They phone me up by the day or by the night … it could be anywhere in the country," Webb told Newsnight's Richard Watson, in a report broadcast on the BBC2 daily current affairs show on Tuesday night.

In 2006 he was asked to follow Prince William while he spent a few days in Gloucestershire.

another special relationship .....

Federal police are investigating allegations that News Ltd offered a then-serving federal senator a ''special relationship'' involving favourable coverage if he crossed the floor on a vote of financial interest to the company.

The investigation was sparked by a statement given to them by the former Nationals senator, Bill O'Chee, who alleges a News Ltd executive said he would be ''taken care of'' if he crossed the floor.

The Herald has seen the nine-page statement, written by Mr O'Chee last month, after he was approached by a federal police agent inquiring into the matter.

The inquiry has been secret until today due to sensitivities around those involved.

Mr O'Chee, a Queensland senator between 1990 and 1999, has had a long and difficult relationship with the Murdoch press, which spent years reporting on his large parliamentary superannuation payout and an acrimonious split with his first wife.

The incident came to light during a recent conversation at an Australian airport between Mr O'Chee and a sitting MP, involving the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

The MP said they doubted anything similar would be unearthed in Australia's independent media inquiry. Mr O'Chee then relayed the incident.

The conversation was brought to the attention of the federal police last month. The matter is being investigated by the special references unit which deals with sensitive political inquiries.

Mr O'Chee has given a statement to the federal police. Yesterday a police spokesman confirmed an investigation had begun on November 4.

The allegations centre on proposed legislation regarding the creation of digital television in Australia, a bill called the Television Broadcasting Services (Digital Conversion) Act.

News, Fairfax - the publisher of the Herald - Telstra and Optus opposed the legislation because it proposed to give free-to-air broadcasters up to six new channels each free as part of the move to digital television.

It also proposed a ban on new TV stations for 10 years, protecting the existing operators.

In 1998 the Senate was finely balanced with two independents - Labor defector Mal Colston and Brian Harradine - holding the key to whether the bill would pass. The Howard government supported it, Labor had said it would oppose it.

Mr O'Chee was on the Senate committee involved in scrutinising the bill and was seen as a weak link in Coalition support for the bill as he had previously crossed the floor on other bills.

In the end, Labor secured some amendments and supported the legislation, making the independents irrelevant.

But there was a frenzy of lobbying before the bill arrived in the Senate, with the vote expected to go to the wire.

Mr O'Chee's statement says that in mid-1998 he received an invitation to lunch with a senior News Ltd executive and a lobbyist. The invitation was conveyed by the then state president of the Nationals, David Russell. Both men agreed it would not be proper to meet during the state election campaign then in progress, but agreed to a lunch afterwards.

Soon after the election on June 13 Mr O'Chee and Mr Russell arrived for lunch at one of Brisbane's most exclusive restaurants, Pier 9. By coincidence, Lachlan Murdoch, the son of Rupert, and Chris Mitchell, the then editor of The Courier Mail, were having lunch at another table.

When the Herald contacted Lachlan Murdoch yesterday he said through a spokesman that he could not recall the lunch.

Mitchell, who now edits The Australian, said he recalled a lunch with Mr Murdoch during which they encountered Mr O'Chee but could not recall the presence of the News executive.

The News executive and the lobbyist declined to comment.

Mr Russell has also provided a statement which confirms the meeting and those present. While the Herald has not seen this statement, it is understood Mr Russell does not recall any improper offers being made.

During the meeting, Mr O'Chee said, the News executive argued that the digital conversion bill needed to be defeated because it would bankrupt regional free broadcasters which could not afford to convert to digital.

''I felt that these arguments were made up because News Corporation had no financial interest in non-pay television broadcasting,'' Mr O'Chee's statement says.

''[I] believed that News Corporation's real interest was the effect the digital conversion legislation would cause to its Foxtel business venture, because it would reduce the amount of people who would want to subscribe for these services.'' The executive then said that while it would be controversial for Mr O'Chee to cross the floor, ''we will take care of you''.

If Mr O'Chee was criticised for his decision, News would use its Australian newspapers to look after him, including running his media releases and opinion pieces. ''[He] also told me we would have a 'special relationship', where I would have editorial support from News Corporation's newspapers, not only with respect to the digital conversion legislation, but for 'any other issues' too.

''I believed that [he] was clearly implying that News Corporation would run news stories or editorial content concerning any issue I wanted if I was to cross the floor and oppose the digital conversion legislation.''

At this point, according to the statement, Mr Murdoch and Mr Mitchell rose from their table and came over. The statement says Mr Murdoch was surprised to see the News Ltd executive and said, ''I didn't know you were having lunch here today''. The executive then told Mr Murdoch: ''This is Bill O'Chee. He's going to help us with digital TV.''

Mr Murdoch and Mr Mitchell then left, and the lunch broke up soon after, with Mr O'Chee promising to consider the News executive's arguments.

A week later he called the executive and told him he would not cross the floor. ''After this conversation, it became almost impossible for me to get anything published in the Queensland newspapers which News Corporation controlled, even though I had been able to do so before the lunch meeting.''

Mr O'Chee lost his Senate position three months later.

breaking their codes... and their knees...


A BBC program has accused a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation of enlisting the help of a computer hacker to bring down a rival company.

The Panorama program says the company's security arm, NDS, recruited a hacker to acquire the smart card codes of its biggest pay TV rival, ITV Digital.

The BBC says the codes were then posted online, allowing pirates to access ITV's Digital services for free.

The company went bust in 2002, just four years after it was set up as a rival to Sky TV.

The allegations centre on pay TV smart cards - cards with a microchip which pay TV subscribers insert into a set top box to unscramble pay TV signals.

When a smart card is pirated, it can cost the pay TV operator hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.


Can I also once more mention Vivendi?


"never asked a PM for anything"...

Rupert Murdoch threatened the Conservatives that unless they changed policy on Europe they would lose the support of his newspapers, Sir John Major revealed yesterday, in the starkest evidence so far of the media tycoon's interference in politics.

The former Prime Minister told the Leveson Inquiry that the proprietor of The Sun and The Times made the threat over dinner in February 1997.

"Mr Murdoch said he really didn't like our European policies," he told Lord Justice Leveson. "That was no surprise to me. He wished me to change our European policies. If we couldn't change our European policies his papers could not, would not support our Conservative Government."

"As I recall he used the word 'we' when referring to his newspapers," added Sir John, who was Prime Minister between 1990 and 1997. "He didn't make the usual nod to editorial independence." The comments flatly contradict Mr Murdoch's evidence to the inquiry on 25 April, when the News Corp chief executive said under oath: "I have never asked a Prime Minister for anything."

see also

see toon and stories at top...


ball bounce...

Rupert Murdoch yesterday brushed off the scandal besetting his media empire with a spectacular coup to maintain his grip on Britain's pay-TV market.

BSkyB, the television company in which Mr Murdoch's News Corp has a controlling stake, clinched a £3bn deal for the right to show the lion's share of top English football matches for another three years. It came on a dramatic day for the media mogul, with News Corp's aborted bid for full ownership of BSkyB continuing to make headlines.

The Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, was accused of lying to the House of Commons over his handling of the proposed deal. And meanwhile, Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive of Mr Murdoch's News International, appeared in court to be told by a judge that she will have to stand trial on charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, linked to the phone-hacking scandal.


see toon at top...


spying double clicks...

ALL DAY, every day, there are creepy things out there that are tracking just about everything you do on your computer.

They have funny names like:

  • 33Across
  • [x+1]
  • AddtoAny
  • Aggregate Knowledge
  • OrangeSoda
  • Reinvigorate…..

One Sunday morning recently, I discovered 42 such trackers beavering away inside my hard drive, following my every move. Every time I hit the keyboard, they were taking notes.

This is not a bad dream; not the result of a binge the night before — this is real. This is a George Orwellfantasy writ large inside my iMac. George Orwell named his most famous and scariest book 1984.  He wrote it in 1948.  Surely it is no coincidence that I bought my first personal computer in 1984.

We are all being spied around the clock by a swag  of mysterious agencies. What for? I have no idea. But I know its happening. Online tracking in our computers makes the phone hacking scandal in the UK last year hardly worth bothering about.

The United States Federal Trade Commission has taken note and has published a report.  They want a voluntary code to be introduced by the computer industry so that home users can know more about their activities and the reasons for them.  They are asking nicely. Fat chance!

These creepy crawlies aren’t collecting our personal private data just for fun. I guess that the very basic reason is so they can increase their sales — and to do so they stick their wet little noses into things that are none of their damn business. What else are they up to? Who are they?

The most active snoops happen to be two massive corporations who dominate much of the online activity around the world — Facebook and Google. They, at least, tell you openly who they are and what they are about. Others tell you nothing.

Another activator is Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, with its operating centre in Israel supposedly using its resources only to track and zap people who steal the secret codes of their international pay TV systems.

hiding cash under the cap...


The season from hell just got worse off the field for the Sharks with the club hit with a $150,000 salary cap breach – the most by any NRL club in a raft of fines handed down by the league.

The NRL has completed its audit and meted out punishments of $503,407 across seven clubs. The Sharks, who have been battling allegations of performance-enhancing drug use at the club, were hit with the biggest bill. Canberra ($144,393), Newcastle ($88,749), Manly ($85,000), Gold Coast ($16,217) and last-placed Parramatta ($4,700) were also fined.

The clubs have five days to challenge the fines, but the Knights have already stated they won't be doing so.

"The breach relates to the interpretation of an individual playing contract," Knight chief executive Matt Gidley said. "Our club has had extensive discussions over a long period of time to ensure future breaches in similar circumstances do not arise."

The Knights said both parties were confident further issues with the salary cap would not come up and that they supported the NRL's review of the cap.The fines were imposed for a range of breaches across the top 25 squads, second-tier cap and NYC limits, with the penalties reviewed by the ARLC audit and risk committee and supported by the commission.

“The salary cap plays an incredibly important role in the competition and all clubs need to be accountable for staying within the limits of the Cap,” NRL chief operating officer Jim Doyle said. “This closeness of the competition over many years is tied directly to the fair and consistent enforcement of the salary cap rules and the effectiveness of the annual audit process.

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See toon and article from top...


grubby cash for murdoch's broncos...


The Brisbane Broncos is a publicly listed company 68 per cent owned by Murdoch's News Corp Australia. It operates in the sport and entertainment industry – a highly competitive field that mostly doesn't enjoy taxpayer subsidies. If you follow rugby league, you might have heard of them and if you live in Brisbane you certainly would have, as the alternative name for Murdoch's Courier-Mail is the "Bronco-Mail".

Well, if the Liberal Party buffoons win the election, they are forcing you and me to give the Broncos $5 million. If the Labor Party clowns win, we have to hand over $3 million. And it's even worse if you're a Queenslander as your state government, for all its talk of responsible spending and cutting various services, is giving even more of your money so the Murdoch team can enjoy luxurious training facilities on prime inner-city land instead of making do in less salubrious suburbs.

Apparently it's legal for Abbott and Rudd and Newman to do that with our money. It should be a crime.

The Broncos is a business, one of no greater or lesser intrinsic worth than your local garage or yoga instructor, but certainly larger, more privileged and better connected politically. If the Labor and Liberal parties can't find something better to do with a few million lazy dollars, they should be disbanded.

Oh the party faithful might stretch to come up with tenuous justifications for their generosity with my money – the health benefits of encouraging kiddies to play rugby league, for example. That's tosh. The Broncos is an admirably slick multimillion-dollar business with massive PR heft and presence. A few million dollars of our money will not matter a jot to whatever impact there might be on childhood obesity of watching the admirable Sam Thaiday smash into people.

No, this is a grubby and not-very-important vote-buying exercise in the grand tradition of the old pork barrel. Labor is desperate in Logan – the destination of its $3 million for a Broncos junior “academy”– and the Liberals are wary of the Ruddster impact in south-east Queensland. Quick, Tony, you'd better run up to Townsville and sling the Cowboys a few mill too – they're much more serious about their Rugby League and will take offence at Broncos favouritism.

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See toon at top and articles below it...


the smell of gambling joining rabbit gambolling...


The social capital - the reputation, visibility, influence and credibility - of sport and sporting heroes is immense. It's popular with commercial interests precisely because of this.

As a society, we came to realise that associating tobacco with sport was completely counter to the idea of a healthy sporting culture. With alcohol and gambling, we have yet to come to this realisation. Nonetheless, as the backlash against live odds demonstrated, there is considerable community concern about the harm that can come from saturating sport with the promotion of gambling.

We've seen what can happen when gambling interests becomes so powerful that it can dictate terms to politicians. Sports betting is not at that stage yet, despite the best efforts of the bookies. Restraint on the commercial links between dangerous products and sporting organisations seems reasonable. Prohibition of advertising - particularly during hours when children can be expected to be watching - would be a good start.

Dr Charles Livingstone is a senior lecturer at the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University. View his full profile here.

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quietly, coughing up...


The publisher of the Sun and the defunct News of the World has settled 17 cases of phone hacking and illegally obtaining personal information, avoiding a high-profile court case.

News Group, part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, has settled with celebrities including Les Dennis, the footballer Jonathan Woodgate and the Coronation Street actors Samia Ghadie, Kym Marsh and Alan Halsall.

The settlement means that a high court trial due to hear the 17 cases in October will no longer go ahead. The trial would have aired allegations of phone hacking at the Sun – which News Group has always denied – and could have led to James Murdoch being forced to take the stand as his family try to secure a controversial £11.7bn takeover of Sky.

The settlement is likely to be worth millions of pounds. News Group has not admitted to any unlawful behaviour at the Sun as part of the settlement, which was revealed at a pre-trial review at the high court on Thursday.

The 17 cases are the first tranche of 91 new claims of phone hacking and illegally obtaining personal information against the Sun and News of the World. High-profile individuals who have not settled their claims include Sir Elton John, Gordon Ramsay, David Tennant and Heather Mills.

A court hearing for the next tranche of alleged victims is scheduled for January, when the Sky deal is still likely to be awaiting regulatory approval.

News Group has already settled hacking cases with more than 1,000 people, but these were related to the News of the World, which was closed in 2011 at the height of the hacking scandal.

Other individuals in the latest settlement include Ian Cotton, the former press officer for Liverpool football club; James Mullord, the former manager of singer Pete Doherty; and Brooke Kinsella, the former EastEnders actor and anti-knife crime campaigner.

At a hearing in June, News Group was ordered to hand over thousands of invoices relating to the use of private investigators by the Sun and its former Sunday sister title.

Mr Justice Mann said News Group must explain why it had redacted hundreds of documents relevant to the hacking case, and that laptops used by James Murdoch, the former chairman of News International, should be searched.

News Group is part of News Corp, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan. The Murdochs are trying to buy Sky through 21st Century Fox, which was split from their newspaper business after the phone-hacking scandal led to the collapse of their previous bid for Sky in 2011.

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read from top...

I say somewhere aboveIt took a massive toll on the South Sydney management. I can say here, if my memory is correct, that Alan Jones (not a board member at the time but see him of this site in regard to other subjects such as global warming) was preparing the ground for the Rabbitohs to merge with Canberra, while others (mostly politicians and they shall remain nameless) wanted to enforce a merger with Cronulla...  

Shall I dare mention that the "others (politicians)" in question was Eddie Obeid?... But I would not know, would I?


rabbitoh stake...

Tech billionaire and philanthropist Mike Cannon-Brookes has joined the list of celebrity owners of the the South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league club, alongside Hollywood actor Russell Crowe and casino mogul James Packer.

Key points:
  • Mike Cannon-Brookes has bought a one third share in a company that owns 75 per cent of the club
  • The entrepreneur already owns a share of NBA team, the Utah Jazz
  • He has an estimated net worth of $27 billion

The football team is the latest addition to the 41-year-old entrepreneur and investor's growing portfolio of assets.

"I'm excited and humbled to be a part of this iconic club," Cannon-Brookes said.

"I'm looking forward to partnering with Russell and James and bringing what I can to the table to help the club grow to even greater heights."

It's not the first foray into sport for the man who co-founded the Sydney-based software powerhouse Atlassian with Scott Farquhar, a fellow graduate from the University of NSW.  

Last year, he bought a minority stake in National Basketball Association team, the Utah Jazz, in the United States, becoming the first Australian part-owner of an NBA team.  

In a statement, Crowe revealed Cannon-Brookes was a long-time Rabbitohs fan.



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and cronulla…….

Speculation surrounding Scott Morrison’s post-parliamentary ambitions includes the possibility of a job with the Australian Rugby League. His involvement with the sport poses plenty of questions, including the grants largesse that defined his time as PM. Investigation by #Mate.

Scott Morrison went to the footy the day after his ”miracle” election win in 2019.  The image of a triumphant Coalition prime minister waving his blue Cronulla Sharks cap to the home crowd at Shark Park in Woolooware jarred with everyone who had expected the election to send a dysfunctional government packing.

Morrison’s indulgence of the Cronulla Sharks was deft. It certainly fitted his well-crafted image, the private schoolboy from Sydney’s eastern suburbs presented as the daggy dad from middle-class Australian heartland. That image was cultivated, but not necessarily any more insincere than the Aussie-battler image cultivated by the Labor leaders who hobnob with the captains of business and other plutocrats.

Rugby league was once the battler’s sport but those days are long gone. The former Coalition government’s involvement in the sport demands closer examination. It’s worth asking: Would Morrison feel entitled to a role in rugby league as a consequence of the $100M+ in grants (our taxes) he funnelled into the sport?

An analysis of government grants data reveals vast sums of taxpayers’ money flowed from multiple agencies, multiple grant programs and multiple grant categories.

Indigenous education and the Brisbane Broncos

The “Indigenous Education” category of the “Children and Schooling” Grant Program provided three grants worth $23.7m. 99% of this went to the Brisbane Broncos.

  • One grant contributed $21.3m of the $23.7m. Initially the “Beyond the Broncos Girls Academy” received $8.8m for a 27-month period, a small variation decreased the amount by $200,000 after 11 months.
  • second variation then added $13m and extending the contract by 24 months. The initial grant and variations were not allocated by a tender process, instead they were direct non-competitive grants. 
  • The 1936 S23(i) Tax Act making sporting clubs tax exempt still apply to the Brisbane Broncos (Income from non-members are taxable)
  • Brisbane Broncos is a publicly listed company
  • News Corp owns 69% of the Brisbane Broncos.
  • News Corp owns the broadcast rights for NRL
  • News Corp is foreign-owned and often pays low or no taxes here.

There are limitations of analysis arising from data. The Annual Report shows how the grant money is reported on. Interestingly they say it is “Cost Recovery” however nowhere in the grant requirements is a record of expenses required. No information in any annuals reports provides any information on this ‘Cost Recovery’ largesse.

But it is apparent that the taxpayer has given 99% of all rugby-focused money from the “Indigenous education” program to a tax-exempt publicly listed, foreign-controlled company that pays no tax in Australia.

  • How is success being measured for this funding and what successes were achieved after 12 months that resulted in another $13M being awarded?
  • How is a predominantly male sport receiving $23.7M of funding from the “indigenous education” fund, while netball receives just $1.3M over the same period from the same fund.
Turning rorting into a science

From Carporks, to Sportsrorts and everything in between, the level of rorting from the Liberal and National parties was breathtaking. Rorting was turned into a science. The use of colour-coded spreadsheets enabled pinpoint precision. 

The definition of regional funds was beyond elastic. An Olympic pool under the Sydney Harbour Bridge got $10m meant for ‘upgrading community swimming pools in rural and regional areas’.

A similar fund category called “Regional Development” had similar issues with what ‘Regional’ meant. The equal second largest rugby league grant was $16.5M taken from the “Regional Development” category.

The $16.5M grant was given to the Parramatta Eels for a ‘centre of excellence’ which includes a new stadium and other facilities.

The ‘centre of excellence’ is located in Liberal powerbroker Alex Hawke’s electorate of Mitchell. According to the ABS zone categorisation the development is in “Level 0-Major Urban”.

The question: What criteria were used to justify the use of ‘Regional Development” funds to build a new stadium in a “Major Urban” suburb in Alex Hawke’s electorate?

Hillsong and “Children and Schooling” grant

The “Children and Schooling” Grant program is one of six programs within the Indigenous Advancement Strategy. The IAS was created in 2014 

The objectives of the Children and Schooling program is to: “Get children to school, particularly in remote Indigenous communities, improving education outcomes and supporting families to give children a good start in life. This program includes measures to improve access to further education.”

The Liberals created a near exact program under Howard which attracted substantial criticism for the allocation of money to Hillsong. Scott Morrison referred to Hillsong’s CEO, Leigh Coleman as his mentor in his first parliamentary speech. The failure to spend Indigenous funding effectively,  led to headlines such as these Hillsong denies bribe allegationHillsong accused of misleading Indigenous communityChurch blessed by liberal handout.

Specific examples included Hillsong spending $315,000 in federal funds employing seven of its own staff to administer a “micro-credit” project that made only six loans to Indigenous Australians worth an average of $2856 each, and Hillsong failing to enable a single Indigenous Australian to become self-employed under a $610,968 federal grant to encourage indigenous entrepreneurship (Hillsong Church ‘spent indigenous grants on staff).

Whether it’s funding to religion or rugby league, there appears to be little evidence these grants improve outcomes for Indigenous Australians.


Based on 149,590 grant records publicly available where ‘Rugby’ was mentioned in either the ‘Recipient Name’ or ‘Grant Purpose’ fields.

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It is well known that during the "Rugby League Wars", Uncle Rupe financed the Cronulla Club that would have gone broke otherwise.