Minister for Communications has declared war on the Murdoch empire, declaring the police should be called in following allegations of TV hacking in the UK.
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“These are serious allegations, and any allegations of criminal activity should be referred to the Australian Federal Police for investigation,” a spokesperson for Minister for Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy, told Fairfax (News Ltd’s arch rival) today.
Australia’s Treasurer Wayne Swan also branded the allegations that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp hacked UK Pay TV rival OnDigital smart card codes which led it to go bust, “concerning.”
And in a separate development the competition watchdog, ACCC, has pushed out its second court hearing on the proposed Austar/Foxtel merger until April 13
The second court hearing, previously listed for 5 April has just been pushed back another week, Austar confirmed today.
Foxtel, 25% owned by News Limited, News Corp’s Australian arm, is looking to buy regional Pay TV giant Austar in a massive $2 billion deal, which would see it control 97% of the Pay TV market here.
The ACCC has voiced major concerns about the impact on Internet TV and broadband markets in Oz and fears an enlarged Foxtel, which is 50% owned by Telstra, may result in a monopoly if it allows the deal go ahead.
Telco iiNet has already voiced concerns about the deal and fears access to IPTV content and channels will be debilitated.
But it looks like this latest development in the UK could spell trouble for Foxtel’s proposed merger, which would see it gain over 700,000 new subscribers and access to new regional customers, if the latest comments by Conroy’s people are anything to go by – although the decision is now in hands of the ACCC.
Austar confirms that its shareholder meetings will be held on 30 March 2012 as planned, despite the lack of approval from ACCC.
Austar said it “remains optimistic of a positive outcome, by proceeding with the shareholder meetings on 30 March” but “makes no representations approval will either begranted or be granted in time to enable the transaction to proceed,” it said in a statement today.