Rupert Murdoch Takes to Twitter on Piracy Allegations

Rupert Murdoch
Reuters/James Knowler/Landov

Although Murdoch was long believed to be committed to entrusting the empire to one of his children, he has not made it easy for them.

The News Corp. chairman, president Chase Carey and NDS chair Abe Peled respond to corporate piracy allegations aired this week in the U.K. and Australia.

SYDNEY - News Corp.'s top executives have gone on the offensive against allegations of corporate piracy focused on long-time pay TV technology affiliate NDS.

News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch has come out swinging on Twitter, and president and COO Chase Carey defended the company and NDS, saying that a BBC report this week used "manipulated and mischaracterized emails."

Their public responses came as it emerged that the Australian Federal Police has been helping the Metropolitan Police in London with its enquires into phone hacking since July 2011.

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While not directly answering the piracy allegations that surfaced in the U.K. and Australia this week, Murdoch in three separate tweets Thursday afternoon Australian time, answered his “competitors and enemies,” saying he was preparing to “hit back hard.”

Said the media mogul: “Seems every competitor and enemy piling on with lies and libels. So bad, easy to hit back hard, which preparing,” he said in the first tweet. He followed that up with a message saying: “Enemies many different agendas, but worst old toffs and right wingers who still want last century's status quo with their monopolies.”

Murdoch finished by tweeting: “Let's have it on! Choice, freedom of thought and markets, individual personal responsibility.”

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Carey, meanwhile, issued a statement reiterating the company's support for NDS, which Cisco Systems agreed to buy this month for $5 billion.

Carey said: “The BBC’s Panorama program 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. Panorama presented manipulated and mischaracterized emails to produce unfair and baseless accusations."

Meanwhile, NDS chairman Abe Peled issued a letter to the BBC’s Panorama program.

"News Corporation is proud to have worked with NDS and to have supported them in their aggressive fight against piracy and copyright infringement," Carey said. "News Corporation fully endorses executive chairman of NDS Abe Peled’s attached letter to Panorama and supports NDS in clearing its name, just as the U.S. Department of Justice, a federal court jury and a federal appellate court have all done in past ruling.".

Peled further accused the BBC of violating its own broadcasting code and misleading viewers by manipulating the emails the program claimed was evidence of corporate piracy.

“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,” Peled said. “Were you to have shared this manipulated and misleading material with us prior to broadcast, we would have shown you that this cache of stolen emails had been obtained and manipulated as part of an ongoing plan by third parties to damage the reputation of NDS, our sister companies and News Corporation. Frankly, it is outrageous that Panorama has facilitated these actions by third parties to damage our name.”

He asked that the BBC withdraw the allegations “immediately.”

In Sydney earlier, Michael Stutchbury, the editor in chief of the Australian Financial Review, said the paper, published locally by News Ltd. competitor Fairfax Media, “fully stands by Neil Chenoweth’s extraordinary report of pay TV piracy involving News Corporation subsidiary NDS.”

That story was published Wednesday alongside a dossier of many of the 14,400 emails that the AFR says support allegations that "show NDS sabotaged business rivals, fabricated legal actions and obtained telephone records illegally."