Online petition launched by ex-PM Kevin Rudd decried Murdoch’s News Corp as a ‘cancer on our democracy’ operating an effective ‘monopoly’.
Australia’s parliament will launch an inquiry into media ownership, a prominent senator said, after more than half a million people signed a petition demanding a probe into Rupert Murdoch’s dominance of the news industry.
The online petition attracted a record number of signatories after being launched on October 12 by former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, a frequent target of newspapers controlled by Murdoch’s News Corp.
The Australian arm of the New York-based company is the country’s largest media organisation, owning papers in nearly every major city as well as cable television networks and magazines.
Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, a prominent politician from the minor Greens party, said the Senate had backed her push to probe the lack of news media diversity in Australia.
“Very glad to see the Senate support this and establish an inquiry immediately,” she tweeted.
“Australians have become increasingly concerned about the concentration of media ownership and the power and political influence of Murdoch.”
Breaking: The Senate has agreed to establish an Inquiry into media diversity following the record breaking petition promoted by @MrKRudd.
Australians have become increasingly concerned about the concentration of media ownership and the power and political influence of Murdoch.
— 💚🌏 Sarah Hanson-Young (@sarahinthesen8) November 11, 2020
The country’s opposition parties united behind the move in the Senate to effectively sidestep the conservative government, which enjoys strong support from the Murdoch press and had not acted on the petition’s demand for a royal commission.
In launching the petition, Rudd decried News Corp as a “cancer on our democracy” operating an effective “monopoly”.
“This power is routinely used to attack opponents in business and politics by blending editorial opinion with news reporting,” the petition stated. “These facts chill free speech and undermine public debate.”
Rudd, who was prime minister from 2007 to 2010 and briefly in 2013, has long been critical of what he says is the media organisation’s “vicious” campaigning for the political right.
The petition was signed 501,876 times on the national parliament’s website, eclipsing the previous record of 404,538 signatures on a 2019 e-petition calling on the government to declare a climate emergency.
The petition also garnered support from former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who was removed by hardline conservatives in a 2018 party coup supported by the Murdoch press.
On Monday, Labor’s Andrew Leigh tabled the record-breaking online petition to Parliament, saying it was important to present the citizens’ views.
“Our democracy depends on diverse sources of reliable, accurate and independent news,” the petition stated.
“We are especially concerned that Australia’s print media is overwhelmingly controlled by News Corporation, founded by Fox News billionaire Rupert Murdoch, with around two-thirds of daily newspaper readership.”
The matter has been referred to the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee for an inquiry, which will include an examination into the state of media diversity, independence and reliability in Australia and the effect it has on public interest journalism and democracy.
Lay-offs at Hong Kong TV station stoke concerns over media freedom – Reuters Canada
HONG KONG (Reuters) – A Hong Kong television station said on Tuesday about 100 staff were “affected” by a shake-up as it seeks to control costs and remain competitive in a challenging economic environment, a move that has re-ignited worries over media freedom in the city.
Local media said 40 workers had been laid off from i-Cable, including the entire team from the station’s award-winning investigative section News Lancet.
“In the face of daunting challenges, the group has devoted to adopting various measures to explore new business opportunities for competitiveness enhancement and sustainable development,” the station said in a statement, adding that about 100 positions of the group’s 1,300 staff would be affected.
“Under this circumstance, after a comprehensive review, it was unavoidable for the group to carry out an organizational restructure of various departments.”
The pay TV station did not say how many had been sacked.
Wong Lai-ping, deputy chief of the station’s China News team, which covers human rights on the mainland and reported from Wuhan province on the coronavirus outbreak, told reporters she was among those laid off. Ten other members of the team had resigned in protest against the lay-offs, she added.
i-Cable journalists told Reuters the lay-offs had prompted the heads of the station’s China News, Hong Kong General News, Finance News and Editing desk to resign.
Yau Ting-leung, 22, a journalist from the News Lancet segment who said he was fired after about six months with the company, said he was sceptical of the reason behind the decision.
“It’s definitely media censorship. It’s a pity they sacked the entire team. There aren’t many TV investigative news programmes in Hong Kong,” Yau said.
i-Cable told Reuters it had no comment when asked about reports of censorship.
The Hong Kong Journalists’ Association said it was watching the situation closely as media have already come under pressure in the wake of a new national security law introduced by Beijing on its freest city on June 30.
“This time the whole ‘News Lancet’ team of Cable News was laid off and the team has often reported against/on the police or the regime in the past year,” HKJA said in a statement.
i-Cable was founded in 1993 and is now owned by David Chiu, chairman and CEO of Far East Consortium.
Reporting By Sharon Tam, Jessie Pang; Yanni Chow; Clare Jim, Donny Kwok, Joyce Zhou; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan
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Session 1 of Media and Journalism track of 3rd Virtual Global WHO Infodemic Conference – World Health Organization
World Health Organization (WHO) and BBC Media Action and Internews,are pleased to invite you to participate in the media and journalism track of the 3rd Virtual Global WHO Infodemic Conference entitled “Whole-of-Society
Challenges and Solutions to Respond to Infodemics.” The WHO defines an Infodemic as “an overabundance of information – some accurate and some not – occurring during an epidemic, making it hard for people to find trustworthy
sources and reliable guidance when it is most needed.
The objective of the conference is to bring together all segments of society to find a truly multi-sectorial approach to managing Infodemics. Your media and journalism experience is needed to help ‘repair’ and ‘prepare’ the
media’s response to the Infodemic. No matter your role in the media industry, your opinion can help shape the future of journalism during the next pandemic.
Topic: The Challenge: Infodemics & the Media – learning from the past
Date: 2 December 2020 14:00 – 16:00 CET
Your participation in this session will help identify challenges and lessons learned
from the 2020 Infodemic.
Part 1 (14:00 – 15:00 CET) is a roundtable discussion between global leaders in media and journalism.
- Hussein Al Sharif, Maharat Foundation (Lebanon)
- Imogen Foulkes, Geneva Correspondent, BBC (Switzerland)
- Asha Mwilu, Founder and editor at large at Debunk Media (Kenya)
- Palagummi Sainath, People’s Archive of Rural India (India)
- Moderator: Ida Jooste, Internews
Part 2 (15:00 – 16:00 CET) will include invitation only “Repair Cafe” breakout sessions. Participants (you) will be randomly chosen to participate through separate calendar invites.
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