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News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch has labelled Australia’s broadband speeds a “disgrace” and called on the Australian Government and Telstra to spend up to $12 billion on improvements.

 He has also forecast future content deals between News Ltd and Telstra.

At the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Adelaide, Murdoch said he wants to see broadband speeds improved in Australia. He said countries like the Japan and South Korea were “most advanced” in broadband.

 “I think it is a disgrace, I think we should be spending – the Government with Telstra should be spending – $10 billion or $12 billion on it (so it gets to) every town in Australia.,” he said. “They do it in Japan, they do it in South Korea: we should be able to do it here. We are being left behind and we will pay for it.”

Between 50 and 70 per cent of homes in the US had access to broadband, Mr Murdoch said.

He said the Government and Telstra should be spending “$10 billion or $12 billion on it (to reach) every town in Australia; they do it in Japan, they do it in South Korea, we should be able to do it here. We are being left behind and we will pay for it.”

Telstra launched its new high-speed broadband service last week and yesterday maintained its position that regulatory constraints were thwarting any future growth. “Mr Murdoch is speaking our language,” a spokesman said.

Mr Murdoch also ruled his Australian arm, News Limited, out of the race to snare the new 30-channel B licence for mobile television.

After briefing shareholders on the seemingly limitless possibilities

 Telstra last week launched a new ADSL2+ high-speed broadband product, but blamed alleged regulatory constraints for only making it available in areas where its competitors are already offering fast broadband.

 Murdoch said News has begun testing its Myspace.com social networking Web site in Japan, and will kick off a version in Italy shortly. Myspace was an “extremely effective form of advertising,” he said.

 News had also signed a content deal with China Mobile to deliver music, cartoons and other products to mobile phones. Murdoch said the deal was reached on Saturday night during a visit to China. “They have 300 million people – one company – it has the highest market cap in the world for a mobile company,” he said.

 He said News is looking to ink a similar deal with Telstra. “So far we’ve got one with Foxtel, and (Telstra) owns half of Foxtel. I don’t think we have anything beyond that, do we?” he asked News CEO John Hartigan.

Said Hartigan: “We are exploring it. We have a terrific relationship with Telstra and I’m very confident that we will be able to do something quite soon.”

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