Reuters) - Pressure is building in Britain and Australia for fresh probes into Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, already under siege over phone-hacking claims, after allegations that it ran a secret unit that promoted pirating of pay-TV rivals.Murdoch and News Corporation face similar hacking/piracy allegations in Italy.
The Australian Financial Review on Wednesday alleged that News Corp had used a special unit, Operational Security, set up in the mid-1990s, to sabotage its competitors, reinforcing claims in a BBC Panorama documentary aired earlier this week.
"These are serious allegations, and any allegations of criminal activity should be referred to the AFP (Australian Federal police) for investigation," a spokeswoman for Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy told Reuters.
Operational Security was a unit of News Corp's secure-encryption subsidiary NDS, which has denied any wrongdoing in relation to the Panorama claims.
News Corp, which this month sold NDS to Cisco Systems for $5 billion, said it accepted those assurances.
Its Australian arm, News Limited, denied the claims in the Australian Financial Review.
The Daily Beast analyzes the story and finds that these allegations go far beyond anything that came previously in the phone hacking/bribery scandal that has launched three separate police investigations in Britain.
They quote Neil Chenworth, the journalist who investigated alleged News Corporation piracy in Australia:
Chenoweth thinks the scale of these revelations could easily outstrip anything so far in the News Corp. saga: "The phone hacking in Britain revealed intrusions into personal privacy, and caused reputational and succession damage to News Corp. But the costs will be only a few hundred million dollars. What you have here is an issue which caused five separate different lawsuits in the past against News Corp. from global corporations each claiming billions of dollars. I would estimate this is at least 50 times bigger than phone hacking."
The newspaper division of News Corporation is a small part of the whole company's profits - News Corporation can afford to see News of the World, the Sun, the Sunday Times, the New York Post and even the Wall Street Journal go down.
The company would have a harder time surviving the loss of the pay TV revenue, which could happen if they are found guilty of putting competitors out of business through piracy and hacking.
This scandal is now going right to the heart of News Corporation and exposing the company as having nothing but rot at its core.
You'll note, the more journalists who are independent of Murdoch dig into the story, the more they find.
First, The Guardian broke the Milly Dowler hacking story and attendant bribery.
Now the BBC and The Australian Financial Review are breaking open the piracy scandal for News Corporation.
The criminals and phone hackers at the NY Post ought to be worried a lot more about this story and a lot less about teacher evaluations.
Because now that allegations of piracy have surfaced in Britain, Australia and Italy, the company must undergo worldwide scrutiny.
Every time you scratch the surface of News Corp,, you find moral and ethical rot.
Let's see Joel Klein try and "fix" this latest scandal.