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FactCheck: does Murdoch own 70% of newspapers in Australia?

“Mr Murdoch is entitled to his own view… he owns 70% of the newspapers in this country.” – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, press conference, 6 August. One of the more spirited discussions of the first week…

We take a closer look at the claim the prime minister has made on the Murdoch press in Australia. Newspaper image from www.shutterstock.com

“Mr Murdoch is entitled to his own view… he owns 70% of the newspapers in this country.” – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, press conference, 6 August.

One of the more spirited discussions of the first week of this federal election campaign has concerned whether News Corp Australia, as our largest print media company, has a vested interest in the election outcome.

The Daily Telegraph front page, 5 August 2013. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/

After a front page of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph declaring “Finally, you have a chance to… KICK THIS MOB OUT”, and a tweet from Rupert Murdoch questioning the cost of the National Broadband Network (NBN), Prime Minister Kevin Rudd responded at a media conference in Brisbane that “Mr. Murdoch is entitled to his own view… he owns 70% of the newspapers in this country.”

This statement is factually incorrect. According to the Finkelstein Review of Media and Media Regulation, in 2011 News Corp Australia (then News Limited) accounted for 23% of the newspaper titles in Australia.

In a rebuttal of Kevin Rudd’s claim, Sally Jackson from The Australian observed that News Corp Australia accounts for 33% of the newspaper titles that have sales audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulation.

But Rudd’s claim has more validity if we focus on newspaper circulation. Many of the newspapers listed are highly localised and have small circulations.

News Corp Australia titles account for 59% of the sales of all daily newspapers, with sales of 17.3 million papers a week, making it Australia’s most influential newspaper publisher by a considerable margin.

Rupert Murdoch’s tweet that prompted replies from Anthony Albanese and Kevin Rudd. Twitter

Among capital city and national daily newspapers, which are by far the most influential in setting the news agenda, News Corporation titles accounted for 65% of circulation in 2011. Fairfax Media, the next biggest publisher, controlled just 25%. Those figures may have shifted slightly since then, but there is no doubt that News Corp Australia is our most dominant player - as academic Matthew Ricketson pointed out in The Conversation’s media panel blog, it owns 14 of our 21 metro daily and Sunday newspapers.

An International Media Concentration Research Project, led by Professor Eli Noam of Columbia University, found that Australian newspaper circulation was the most concentrated of 26 countries surveyed, and among the most concentrated in the democratic world.

Rupert Murdoch’s tweet after Kevin Rudd toppled Julia Gillard in a Labor leadership spill. Twitter

Two newspaper owners (News and Fairfax) accounted for 86% of newspaper sales in Australia in 2011, as compared to 54% for the top two newspaper owners in the United Kingdom and a lowly 14% for the top two in the United States.

It is not the purpose of this fact check to consider whether that translates into political influence over governments and the electoral process. But it is important to note that this concentration of newspaper circulation exists at a time when the overall number of newspaper sales is declining. Newspaper sales per 100 Australians were 9.7 in 2011, as compared to 21.9 in 1987 and 13.0 in 2000.

The major reason for this decline is the migration of news consumption to the internet, where news.com.au and other News Corp sites face stronger competition from ninemsn, Yahoo!7, Fairfax Media, the ABC, and other sites such as The Conversation, Crikey, On Line Opinion and Guardian Australia. The extent to which some of these sites either gather original material, or have the influence of the News mastheads, is certainly debatable, but the online news environment is far more diverse than that for print newspapers.

But Kevin Rudd’s claim that Rupert Murdoch - or News Corp Australia - “owns 70% of the newspapers in this country” is, as a factual statement, false.

Verdict

Kevin Rudd’s claim that Rupert Murdoch “owns 70% of the newspapers in this country” is false. He is closer to the mark on the circulation of News Corp Australia’s capital city and daily newspaper titles.


Review

As the article rightly notes, the claim that Rupert Murdoch or News Corp Australia own 70% of Australian newspapers is factually incorrect. As reported in the Independent Media Inquiry final report, its share of daily newspaper is 23%. The report also includes a set of tables on share of newspaper ownership that use Audit Bureau of Circulation data from 2011.

The most recent IBIS World Industry Report on Newspaper Publishing in Australia (July 2013) finds that News Australia has a 42.3% marketshare, with the company’s daily and Sunday newspapers accounting for approximately two-thirds of all daily (including Sunday) newspapers sold in Australia. - Ben Goldsmith.

The Conversation is fact checking political statements in the lead-up to this year’s federal election. Statements are checked by an academic with expertise in the area. A second academic expert reviews an anonymous copy of the article.

Request a check at checkit@theconversation.edu.au. Please include the statement you would like us to check, the date it was made, and a link if possible.

Join the conversation

183 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Giles Pickford
    Giles Pickford is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Retired, Wollongong

    The fact may not be proven. But the fact which needs to be discussed is that the Murdoch media tries to bring down governments. There is no doubt that it does. Its influence in setting the Agenda is unchallenged. Its power is unequalled.

    That is the point.

    The question is can it be restrained. I think the answer probably is that it can't.

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    1. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Mr. Giles, that was my question almost exactly, to the conversation as a "fact check". Does Murdoch ever fail in his political campaigning when he wants an outcome? What is the historic record?
      The man should stand as a political candidate, something his father would have understood.

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    2. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Giles,

      "But the fact which needs to be discussed is that the Murdoch media tries to bring down governments"

      And?

      This is a democracy. It is the unquestionable right of every single person and organisation to attempt to bring down the government should they so choose.

      That you regard this as an issue to be discussed is what I see as the issue that concerns me.

      As to restraining it, not on your nelly. Are you seriously inferring that some people or organisations should have their core rights under a democratic regime restricted? On what basis?

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    3. John Perry

      Teacher

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      "That you regard this as an issue to be discussed is what I see as the issue that concerns me"

      Doesn't he have a right to free speech as well? Can't he discuss it if this is a democracy?

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    4. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Sure he has. If he wishes to abolish to abolish the core principles which underlay the democratic process he is free to do so. Just as I am free to call him out when he does so.

      In this respect we differ. I respect the democratic rights of all people. He clearly does not.

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    5. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Attempting to bring down the government is not treason. What a load of twaddle.

      So long as action occurs within the constitutional framework there is no treason, by definition. If you would like to change the constitution, feel free to advocate it.

      I am unaware of anything News Ltd editors have done which is not also done by Fairfax editors. Are they treasonous as well?

      Sheesh, Instead of Rupert Murdoch why not just blame it all on Snowball, or Emmanuel Goldstein? It would be just as rational.

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    6. Jan Burgess

      Retired

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Giles

      Why shouldn't he attack the government. Last time I looked, this was a (relatively) free democratic country and it's open to anybody (yourself included) to disagree with and attack the government by non-violent means.

      Are you suggesting that Murdoch is using violence?

      If not, why on earth are you saying it should be restrained?

      You sound like an advocate of censorship (restraint by another name) of anything that doesn't agree with your particular ideals.

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    7. Jan Burgess

      Retired

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Greg

      Are you suggesting that Murdoch and News are trying to bring down the government by any means other than the ballot box?

      I don't recall seeing any articles about assassinating the PM or fomenting a military coup.

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    8. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Sorry.

      That should read "If he wishes to advocate the abolition of the core principles which underlie the democratic process"

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    9. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Are you able to read? What does "could be" mean to you? That statement was merely to point out the falsity of your original statement via reductio ad absurdum.

      I made it very clear in my post why it is not legitimate in more common circumstances. Rather go off at a tangent, perhaps you might explain why it is legitimate for parties who are not citizens (i.e. "organisations" in your terms, or foreign citizens) to seek to actively bring down an Australian government outside the electoral process. It is you who claimed that it is their unquestionable right to do so, after all.

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    10. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Not citizens?

      So?

      Australia is a freeish country still. Julia's last attempt to stamp in free political speech failed, and so it should have.

      Free speech is available to all, without exception. There are no citizen tests, there are no tests to ensure you belong to the 'right' organisation.

      It is unnecessary to explain why it is legitimate for non citizens to mouth off as they see fit, other than to say it is their right to do so.

      That's the funny thing about rights, they don't have to be justified, they just are.

      As to doing it outside the electoral process? What? I don't know what you are driving at there. So long as their actions are constitutionally acceptable who cares?

      Free speech is precisely that, and it is, by definition, available to all. If you wish to constrain speech, come out and say it, and justify it.

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    11. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      I do not contest the right to "mouth off", but that is not what you sai was their "unquestionable right".

      Foreign citizens and corporations do not have an unquestionable right to bring down any Australian government. There is no constitutional process that permits this. Having made this statement, it is up to you to back it up.

      Rights don't have to be justified, but asserting something is a right when it is not in the Constitution or provided for by law most certainly does need to be justified, by you pointing out where this alleged right is enshrined.

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    12. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Greg, is publicising an opinion 'bringing down a government'? If so, what sort of law would capture this? If anyone influential - say Gail Kelly or Shane Warne - told you not to vote for a party, would that come under this law as well?

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    13. Paul Burton

      Professor of Urban Management and Planning at Griffith University

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      I believe that attempting to overthrow the Government by violence or force might constitute sedition or treachery. But more interestingly, it is an offence to cause harm to the Prime Minister, in which case both the current and previous Prime Ministers could be accused of treason.

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    14. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      You said: “. There is no constitutional process that permits this.”

      Nor is there any constitutional impediment to it. Further, restricting it is contrary to the fundamental principles od a free society.

      Our rights and freedoms are available to all, citizen or not. Are you advocating that the law should be applied unequally, depending on tour citizen status, or the organisation you work for?

      Should only citizens be allowed to engage in political protest? Do you truly believe new immigrants…

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    15. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      I think they're good points Chris. There are no laws permitting or proscribing countless activities - eating a sandwich, wearing a hat. Imagine if we could only do things the law or Constitution expressly allowed.

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    16. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Farnkly Chris, you're talking BS and resiling from your original statement. You did not talk about free speech originally, and I have no difference with you on that. You made the extraordinary claim that " It is the UNQUESTIONABLE right of every single person and organisation to attempt to bring down the government".

      That statement is vastly different to saying they have an unquestionable right to free speech.

      Rights don't exist just because you assert that they do. They also do not unquestionably…

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    17. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      I don't have an opinion on that. I am questioning the extraordinary claim made by Chris Harper, which as far as I can see is utterly unfounded.

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    18. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Murdoch imagined he was a king maker after he helped to get Whitlam in, and then also helped to get him out again. In the last federal election in the US, Murdoch’s media reporters had convinced themselves (group think?) that Obama would not win. They were gobsmacked when he did; stunned silence when the result came in. The Murdoch media had run a campaign similar in many ways to the anti-Gillard one out here. But of course the big difference was that Obama had only served one term. The electors usually give Presidents, and likewise here in Australia, Prime Ministers a second go even if it means a Tampa episode. The pleasure in it is that the voters have minds of their own, don’t get too caught up in Murdoch’s hubris that he is a king maker. If he proves right this time around, well it’s in the odds.

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    19. Robert Tony Brklje
      Robert Tony Brklje is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Rupert Murdoch's power based around news papers and of course cable news is waning. The truth is, his news empire in the majority has an ageing audience, an audience that is dying off. When it comes to the internet News corp and Fox not-News (the corporate propaganda marketing as news cable network), are losing and they are losing big time.
      There is a huge amount of competition for the news on the internet with readers being able to pick and choose from where they will access the news. Readers quite…

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    20. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Chris an informed and impartial media could be seen as the publics right. Media coverage towards the owners profit and continuing power can easily be seen as a corrupted system of information transference. The issue isn't simply about the media bringing down a government. It's about a rigorous system of journalistic endeavour committed to informing the public about potential legislation and its impact on the public. The full story.
      This can easily be seen as a failure in news. ltd. and their coverage of the facts about climate change. Denial and underplaying influence on the future / facts and realistic outlook. = 4:1. Or an impartial and informed discussion about the future relevance of the oppositions broadband plan. Which will be just as costly and ultimately irrelevant in 5 years time.How can the public know, if they are not adequately told the full story.
      Freedom to lie, last time I thought about it ,wasn't a "right of democracy "at all.

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    21. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      IS it really the right of US Citizen Rupert to interfere in Australian politics?

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    22. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      This is a democracy. Of course it is my right to work to bring down the government.

      Are you seriously asserting that I had no right to work persuade the independents to change side and thereby cause the government to fall?

      I have spent the last three years doing my (small) bit to bring about the downfall of this putrid government, and I will not cease my efforts just because you tell me that my right to do so is open to question. It is not, and the day it becomes so is the day we cease to be…

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    23. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Alice, I agree an informed and impartial media could be seen as the public's right. And there should be no license to lie, but these things are left up to individual conscience and each will argue it to their likes when it comes to business. The way of our economic system is for monopolies, but as others have pointed out the day of these in the media with the onset of competition on-line is winding down. We are left with the Murdochs, relics of a past era, no doubt to be followed by his heirs…

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    24. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Alice,

      You said: "Chris an informed and impartial media could be seen as the publics right.".

      The problem is, no such right can exist, because no such right can be enforced.

      All that can be done is to alter the perceived bias.

      There are those who view Fairfax and the ABC as deeply dishonest, and there are those who view them as fair, reasonable and balanced. Who is right? BTW, that is a rhetorical question, discussing the answer to that isn't a path I want to tread right now...

      The solution is to have a myriad of voices, and accept that people will choose who to listen to, who to take notice of, and who to discount.

      We see this here at The Conversation. I have seen al Jazeera quoted, the Guardian, the BBC, and even, heaven help us, RT.

      Let a thousand flowers bloom...

      Censoring a voice, any voice, simply diminishes the credibility of all.

      As to who is lying, well, unconstrained expression is more likely to expose that than censorship.

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    25. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Greg Young,

      Just as a BTW. Julia Gillard exerted considerable effort to bring down the Rudd government, and succeeded. Kevin Rudd, by the same token, worked successfully to bring down the Gillard government.

      Was that treason? Were they doing anything bar just excercising their right to work to bring down a government?

      Tony Abbott works daily to bring down the government, and so does every Liberal MP. Ditto every Liberal and National party worker. Is that treason?

      I loath this repugnant pack of liars who are squandering the taxpayers hard earned dollars, and not only will I do what I can to get rid of them, but I have been working towards that end for years.

      Is that treason?

      Not by any definition I am familiar with.

      Are you seriously claiming I had no right to do it?

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    26. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      The right to bring down a government. Are you meaning working orderly and honourably towards the replacement of the government at the next election? Or, are you meaning blocking supply or trashing the Prime Minister or downgrading business confidence in fact doing whatever it takes to bring a government down before it works its term? If the later then I find it ethically wrong, not at all cricket and although you may have the freedom to do it, just as I have the freedom to kick the next dog I see walking without a leash in the street, most people would view such behaviour as inappropriate.

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    27. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Chris Saunders,

      Well, it depends on your viewpoint. if by " trashing the Prime Minister or downgrading business confidence" you mean "telling the truth about the rascals", then, yes.

      Just like the ALP did to Howard ,for nine years solid.

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    28. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Ah, now you’ve got me, telling the truth just happens currently to mean being held ransom to personal bias and so I cannot argue on that account. What I am saying however, there are degrees of things and proportionate discontent. If I compare a Prime Minister who got us into war and lies deliberately to the populace about why he did and this led to the death of thousands of people and even when Australians protested in their hundreds of thousands against this, he persisted in his folly, to a Prime Minister who was incorrectly and intentionally claimed by her vanquished opponent to have lied to the Australian people about the introduction of a carbon tax, then I would have to say there is a sharp differentiation in the matter of truth here.

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    29. Jeremy Tager

      Extispicist

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      So, we all have equal rights do we in this election? Equal rights with unequal influence and power is not equal. Yes, Murdoch should be controlled and media ownership should be far more diverse and diffuse. The idea that Murdoch's level of ownership and control doesn't give him disproportionate power over our political system is naive at best. He is a danger to democracy not a demonstration of it.

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    30. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Chris Harper, you need to go back and read your original post and understand what it is you said there.

      Nobody is disputing your right to free speech, nor your right as a citizen to work to down the government as part of our electoral process. But that is NOT what you said. You asserted that all people and organisations have an UNQUESTIONABLE right to do so. In the context, you clearly meant Murdoch and News. Murdoch is NOT an Australian citizen and therefore does NOT have the same rights here as you or I.

      Let's just make this really clear for you. Citizens and organisations from other countries (i.e Murdoch and News) do NOT have the right to bring down the Australian government. This is what you asserted, and it is complete tosh.

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    31. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Chris, there's also this little thing called journalism and expectations of basic standards of impartiality and accuracy.

      Your appeal to 'democracy' is at best disingenuous.

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    32. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Chris, funny that about democracy. I thought democracy was to do with one vote one value so to speak. I did not think it was based on how many newspapers or media organisation you owned let alone how much wealth or power you had. From what you argue here I must have got that wrong.

      Also it seems from what you argue, democracy is not about 'by the people for the people'. Instead it seems it is 'by the corporation for the corporation'. If I have misunderstood you please feel free to correct…

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    33. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Chris, are you therefore arguing that it is right for any outside group to use their wealth and power to bring down a government that does not suit their interests and elect one that is more likely to do their bidding.

      If that is the case what is wrong with countries like China or Russia using their wealth and power overtly or covertly for that matter to install a government more pliable to them. If that is the case what is the difference with a global criminal organisation such as the Mafia…

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    34. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      HI Giles, my late mother worked in The Australian during the 1972 'It's Time' election when Rupert swept into the editorial desk demanding 'I don't care what you write, make Billy MacMahon look stupid!'

      Fortunately that was not difficult.

      This strategy has been used by News Ltd media in every election since .

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    35. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Peter

      I await Chris' response to your valid challenge: "And you think it is okay for such a non-citizen to have so much influence in this country."

      How does one argue that a single American citizen has more rights (and opportunities) to enforcing (because "enforcing" is what Murdoch's media does) a particular POV of view under the spurious guise of freedom of speech. Simply, it is not freedom of speech when it is the only message, repeated ad nauseam across all of News-Corp, it is lobbying for a singular political party.

      Waiting on Chris to see how he justifies such oligarchical behaviour.

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    36. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Alice,
      Nor is "Freedom to lie, last time I thought about it" a good thing when global warming and its defects of theory are rammed down your neck day in, day out.
      Now you know why so many scientists are sceptical, if they were not from the very beginning.
      The power behind the GW story pushed on the public is far greater than anything Rupert could manage to do.

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    37. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      "Now you know why so many scientists are sceptical, if they were not from the very beginning".

      Geoffrey, which scientists are they? Are they the ones on the Global Warming denialist's websites. The problem with many of them Geoffrey is that they have been shown to be funded by the oil companies and the mining industry. The other problem is that none of them have been shown to have produced any peer reviewed work in the area of Climate science. Plus it seems that many of the them are the same…

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    38. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      And remember Chris that Obama won the 2012 election DESPITE Rupert & New Ltd because THE PEOPLE CAST THE VOTES and were NOT convinced by the right wing desire to continue the Afghan war for the benefit of the US NE military industrial complex and the US multinational oil corporations in Iraq.

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    39. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Giles Pickford

      Hi Alice ... News Ltd media are rarely impartial because the CEO is always looking ahead for the next likely profit centre. In the last UK election it was eliminating BBC Business thus removing a reputable competitor supplying commercial information and so expanding subscriptions and so profits.

      In Australia we should be aware that the ABC is under attack from both the LIberal Party and News Ltd for similar reasons.

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  2. Dave McRae

    logged in via Twitter

    In a piece in TheConversation, http://theconversation.com/australias-lamentable-media-diversity-needs-a-regulatory-fix-12942, the source (first link) is http://cpd.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Centre_for_Policy_Development_Issue_Brief.pdf that has "News Limited controls the majority of the newspaper market in Australia with almost 70 per cent of
    the market-share within the capitals compared to 21 per cent for Fairfax.37" where 37 is reference http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1104&context=apme&seiredir=1#search=%22media%20owneship%20comparsion%20australia%22

    Now maybe it isn't 70% or rounding error is a few points too many -- but to imply NewsLtd has a minor reach in print is rot.

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    1. Liz Minchin

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Dave McRae

      G'day Dave, I posted this comment generally as you've spoken for a few people, but am also posting it here in case you're only getting alerts about replies to your thread.

      * Dave McRae raises this point: "In a piece in TheConversation, http://theconversation.com/australias-lamentable-media-diversity-needs-a-regulatory-fix-12942, the source (first link) is http://cpd.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Centre_for_Policy_Development_Issue_Brief.pdf that has "News Limited controls the majority of the…

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  3. Jim KABLE

    teacher

    25% or 43% or 70% scarcely matters when we are speaking of a foreign national interfering in our domestic politics. Follow the man's intemperate tweets and you can clearly see his biases.

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    1. Stephen Prowse

      Research Advisor

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      This hits the nail on the head; why does a foreign national who does not vote in an Australian election have so much influence on Australian politics? Because he can and it is in the best interests of News Corp; not in the best interest of Australia.

      News Corp and its media assets have not acted in the best interests of Australia for many years.

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    2. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      Stephen,

      And who decides “the best interests of Australia”?

      You?

      K. Rudd?

      If any organisation acts in a way that You, or K. Rudd, decide is not in the best interests of Australia, what happens? Are they dragged before a tribunal and punished?

      I don’t act in the best interests of Australia, I act in the best interests of me and mine. I strongly suspect you do as well, because pretty much everyone does. And the result? All those decent people acting in their own best interests results…

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    3. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      Well Chris, for a start K Rudd is an Australian and Murdoch is not. He gave up that right to make more money in the United States. And second, K Rudd puts himself up for election whereas Murdoch has not and nor can he seeing he is not an Australian citizen.

      So as far as I am concerned Murdoch should keep his mug and opinions out of this election and I would say the same for any other non-Australian. He had his chance of getting a President elected in his adopted country of America and he failed. The trouble with Murdoch is that even though he gave up his citizenship and all of its rights he can't make up his mind what country he is a citizen of. As far as I am concerned the American's can keep him and good riddance, but it seems we just can't get rid of him.

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    4. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      Peter,
      When you compare two people (or even two offices) that can have an effect on your life, it is not axiomatic that an elected person has superior skills to a successful business person. In fact, there is no basis for comparison and the concept is invalid.
      Remember, you don't have to vote and you don't have to watch media. Why flay your anguished mind?

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    5. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      Gosh, here I was thinking Peter was saying he wanted to exercise his right to know who he was voting for and why, not what Mr Murdoch (even if acting in the capacity of a seriously democratically minded businessman and not an interfering old fool) thought he should. Gee thanks for giving Peter and anyone agreeing with him the option to turn off and disengage and deny our citizenship responsibilities. As to the superior or otherwise skills, it's got to do with policy and the ability to implement them for the good of all of Australia. Of course a businessman nowhere near compares to that and the way a business is set up neither will he/she.

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    6. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      Geoffrey, thanks for that and I will try not to fray my anguished mind too much. But that was not really my point. And I am not about surrendering my vote by not voting as I am an Australian and here we are required to vote which I very much agree with. I also think that if people don't want to partake in their Australian responsibility of voting than they they should seriously ask themselves why they want to be an Australian citizen in the first place.

      After all lots of people not only struggled…

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  4. Michael Rogers

    Retired

    I wonder if News Corp Australia's annual report or a prospectus for a share float, would include without elaboration a statement like "we only own 23% of Australia's newspaper titles."?

    The issue of course is the fear of Labor and the hope of the collection of parties termed, the 'Coalition' that the audience for News Corp's media have a high degree of ignorance and little capability of rectifying that ignorance and so may be easily manipulated for political advantage.

    The possibility exists that Australians are ruled by imbeciles but what is more certain is that the ruling classes regard the bulk of the Australian electorate as imbeciles incapable of identifying their real interests..

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  5. Jane Goodall

    writer at University of Western Sydney

    To say that 'Kevin Rudd's claim that Murdoch owns 70%of the newspapers is false' is itself a misleading statement. This is not Rudd's claim but one that is widely circulated and routinely cited in the media. You risk creating a propaganda tag line for the Murdoch lobby with that as your summary point.
    All I know is that, on a daily basis, the newspapers I see at the cafe and the petrol station are ALL Murdoch press, and all shouting the same political message, day after day. They pilloried Anna Bligh and made it impossible for average voters to get a genuine picture of what she was like as a Premier.
    It's good to check facts, but in doing so, please be careful that you are not distorting perspectives.

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    1. Neil Gibson

      Retired Electronics Design Engineer

      In reply to Jane Goodall

      Jane,
      The left-leaning Fairfax is represented in all capital cities and people are exercising their right and buying Murdoch instead and you are criticizing their choice. Did you write bagging Murdoch for supporting Rudd at a previous election? Anna Bligh was a worse leader than Gillard and offered a huge target for any responsible journalist. Admittedly the original mess was left by Beattie but it became far worse under her. If you want to criticise media bias then the ABC is hugely biased and goes into every home and is paid for by taxpayers.

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    2. Liz Minchin

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Jane Goodall

      G'day Jane,

      I replied in a general way outside this thread, but in case you're just following alerts on this thread, will copy here too:

      A quick response to a few comments below, which I'll break down so each post isn't too long.
      * Jane Goodall says: "To say that 'Kevin Rudd's claim that Murdoch owns 70%of the newspapers is false' is itself a misleading statement. This is not Rudd's claim but one that is widely circulated and routinely cited in the media." You're quite right Jane, this is…

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    3. Liz Minchin

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Jane Goodall

      Jane - I should add that being in Queensland most of the papers I see around the shops in Brisbane and elsewhere are News papers. I'm sitting with The Oz and Courier-Mail right now. So I can certainly understand your perspective on that.

      But as well as reading those papers (which I do every day), I can also jump online and read The Conversation, the online-only Brisbane Times and a variety of local blogs and international media, which is - as the article points out - is a relatively new and powerful trend.

      If after this and my previous post, you still think our experts have got it wrong, then happy to take that on board and pass that on.

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    4. Michael Rogers

      Retired

      In reply to Jane Goodall

      Witless trolling? Black propanganda? Or can such ignorance be real?

      Go to your local corner shop or supermarket in suburban Perth, Adelaide, Hobart or Brisbane and see how many "left-leaning" Fairfax newspapers are for sale.

      We'll not take the trolling bait of the puerile cannard of ABC bias

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    5. Mark White

      VFX

      In reply to Jane Goodall

      Hey Liz,

      With "I can also jump online and read The Conversation...". That's the problem. People don't (or the ones that decide elections) and only see the headlines of the prominent newspapers, or read whats quickly available, or entertaining, or content that reinforces their viewpoints (all of what it seems News Ltd aims for). It's the influence by osmosis that I find to be more a problem -- people catch a headline, read a few paragraphs and stop. So as you said with "most of the papers I see…

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    6. Liz Minchin

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Jane Goodall

      That's a very fair point Mark, lots of people are too busy (probably the biggest challenge) or not interested enough to check out multiple sources of news.

      There's a whole other article in how time poverty - both perceived and real - affects our ability to have good policy debates.

      There was also an interesting argument near the end of Lindsay Tanner's Sideshow about how the *lack* of choice in media back in the 60s and 70s (esp v few TV channels) made it easier to get mass interest and movements on issues, because whatever issues were big enough to make the news were issues that everyone then knew a bit about. Whereas now we have almost unlimited choice - but that can mean we fracture off into our own little corners or pockets of interest, and can't agree on common ground...

      Better get back to work, but it's a very interesting area to debate!

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    7. Jane Goodall

      writer at University of Western Sydney

      In reply to Jane Goodall

      Thanks, Liz. I think this piece demonstrates that 'fact checking' is not as straightforward as it sounds. Facts like statistics can be spun according to vested interests. The Telegraph has already weighed in with its own version of the 'facts' here - perhaps a more balanced approach would be to take their version of the stats and the version cited by Rudd (which is a well established ballpark) and do some real analysis.
      Robert Manne takes his 70% figure from the Commonwealth Parliamentary library…

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    8. Stephen McCormick

      Research Fellow (Mathematics) at University of New England

      In reply to Jane Goodall

      I agree!
      It does say in the text that 65% of newspapers sold in capital cities are Murdoch's and that 59% of total sales are his. To instead quote the percentage of actual papers that he owns as the conclusion is deceptive.

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    9. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Jane Goodall

      'left-leaning Fairfax'? Neil, do you even remember what the left looked like?

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    10. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to Jane Goodall

      Liz a very good idea. And I would also suggest that even though I agree with the idea of the fact check, they tend to fall down badly by simplistically dealing with what are in fact far more complex issues.

      That means the fact check articles tend to only respond to the original statements that they are fact checking in a very narrow context. For me that defeats the whole purpose of doing the fact check in the first place.

      And that is the problem. Fact checking is dealing with statements…

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    11. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to Jane Goodall

      Mark I have to agree, but in saying that the propaganda and bias of the news only works when we are not willing to take the time to question our own entrenched views and prejudices of the world we live in. And of course that is what politicians and the media rely on.

      And in the end that comes back to us as a nation and a people developing a culture of mature debate that is willing to deal with complex issues for what they are. I would hope that is the idea of the conversation, but I am as yet not always sure of that being its role. One can only hope.

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    12. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Jane Goodall

      Good point Jane. We don't see the claim that TC publishes objective academic analysis in political pieces, possibly a tacit admission of bias by the Chief Political Editor in the majority of her 200+ articles.

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    13. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Jane Goodall

      Thank you Jane for demonstrating the procedure for producing academic analytical articles in the political arena. Research TC, Research is the spine!!

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  6. Luke Axelby

    logged in via Twitter

    A couple of other facts need to be added here.
    The claim of 33% ownership is claimed by a journalist from The Australian - a newspaper owned by Murdoch.
    The way things are going at the moment, I wouldn't trust a single word that any journalist from a Murdoch owned newspaper uttered.
    The 'factcheck' then goes on to say that 59% of newspapers are owned by Murdoch. Whether it's 70% or 59%, it's a massive amount for one individual to be able to pontificate to the masses for his own corporate gain.

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    1. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Luke Axelby

      Luke,

      You said: "The 'factcheck' then goes on to say that 59% of newspapers are owned by Murdoch"

      Sigh.

      33% of Newspaper titles are owned by News Ltd. 59% of newspaper sales are bu News Ltd.

      People are free to buy from the other 67% of titles should they care to, and 41% do so.

      News Ltd sells newspapers because, and only because, they provide a product people wish to but at a price they are willing to pay.

      Fairfax could achieve the same success should they choose to adopt the same strategy.

      Further, the moment News Ltd drops this strategy people will cease buying the papers. The whole thing is a free exchange - there is no coercion involved.

      Why the fuss?

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Luke Axelby

      Chris, I think you'll find economics has moved on a little since the early 1980s and Chicago isn't the only school...

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    3. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to Luke Axelby

      Chris, I must have got it wrong in that I thought that a large proportion of those newspapers are local papers and a lot of them are freebees. These local papers tend to deal with more local issues or market specific topics. So as far as I can see they are largely different market focused.

      While on the other hand Murdoch has a dominance of the State or national circulation news papers. Plus I think you will find that when the local papers deal with state and national/international issues…

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  7. Liz Minchin

    Queensland Editor at The Conversation

    A quick response to a few comments below, which I'll break down so each post isn't too long.
    * Jane Goodall says: "To say that 'Kevin Rudd's claim that Murdoch owns 70%of the newspapers is false' is itself a misleading statement. This is not Rudd's claim but one that is widely circulated and routinely cited in the media." You're quite right Jane, this is very commonly cited, such as in this SMH article by Greens' senator Sarah Hanson-Young "Is our News Limited?": http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/blogs/gengreens/is-our-news-limited-20110912-1k5ow.html
    - I'd be happy to suggest to the main author that we add in some extra links along those lines if you and other Conversationalists think that's important. Having said that, Mr Rudd has said this repeatedly now, so we'd be interested in further comments on whether it was unreasonable to have fact checked him on this.

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    1. Neil Gibson

      Retired Electronics Design Engineer

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      Of course your fact check was reasonable and accurate which is why Jane wants it changed. What you are also required to do is to dilute the message a bit because as Jane said it needs to be put into a leftist perspective so that shock,horror it can't be used for right-wing propaganda purposes. The fact is that Rudd said 70% and it is untrue. Good work!

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    2. Ben Goldsmith

      Senior Research Fellow at Queensland University of Technology

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      Liz, Isn't the point that because the 70% figure is commonly cited, including by the Prime Minister, it needs to be checked?

      Jane, "To say that 'Kevin Rudd's claim that Murdoch owns 70%of the newspapers is false' is itself a misleading statement." This is not misleading. The Prime Minister made this claim yesterday. The fact that others have also made this claim does not mean that it is misleading. And as far as I can see, those other claims were made some time ago, and certainly prior to the current election campaign and prior to the establishment of the Conversation's Fact Checking arm.

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    3. Phil S

      Physics PhD Student

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      I'd be at least interested to know where the 70% number has come from. Clearly it has been derived somehow, and is often cited. How it was derived, for me at least, determines whether the point Rudd was trying to make, should stand.

      And yes, given the wide spread use of the 70% figure, it may not be entirely Rudd's fault he got it wrong. But he should still be held accountable in the fact check as long as all sides are covered.

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    4. Liz Minchin

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      G'day Neil, thanks for that, very happy to get positive comments too.

      Though I should get in early - before any threads get heated - and ask *everyone* to respect each other's perspectives. Whether you're of the left, the right or somewhere in the middle, we'd really like this to be a civil, respectful conversation.

      So by all means debate this Fact Check on its merits, but let's keep it nice (I hate having to moderate - I'd much rather be commissioning new pieces with my colleagues Gay and Bella).

      Thanks everyone.

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    5. Liz Minchin

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      Thanks Ben - you're right, we did focus on Rudd because he's made this point very strongly in a few interviews since the campaign began, and we thought there'd be interest from Conversation readers. Which is proving to be the case!

      But if other people think we should include some past examples of how commonly cited this is by other politicians and media commentators, we wouldn't rule anything out. We'd have to ask our author, of course, as it's their piece. But if it wasn't for length and time we probably would have thrown in some older references, as it is interesting.

      Look forward to running into you around QUT some time.

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    6. Liz Minchin

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      Oh and I should commend you Ben and also Terry on getting this Fact Check up so fast - I know Bella and Gay really appreciated it. One of our fastest checks so far! So thanks again.

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    7. Terry Flew

      Professor of Media and Communications at Queensland University of Technology

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      Phil, the 70% figure comes from capital city and national daily newspapers. It is a hard figure to be absolutely precise about since (1) it depends on what capital cities are included - sometimes it is just Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, and sometimes it also includes Hobart, Canberra and Darwin; and (2) the percentage of circulation figure depends on the sales of all papers e.g. News's figure may go up because sales of The Age and the SMH are down, which would not in itself indicate greater influence, or if it did, it was largely for commercial reasons.

      The reason for focusing on capital city and national dailies is (1) local/regional papers are rarely read outside of their local area (although the Murdoch-owned Gold Coast Bulletin has very high circulation figures); and (2) they are more likely to influence the agenda of other media, such as radio and TV. So they have an influence that is over and above their actual readerships.

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    8. Liz Minchin

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      G'day Terry, a quick note to say thanks for jumping on and responding to questions this morning - we always find the best comments threads are when the author (and in this case we've got you and blind reviewer Ben on here this morning) gets involved. Really helps to clarify points and make sure we've made everything as clear as possible. Ta!

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    9. Phil S

      Physics PhD Student

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      Thanks Terry!

      On another note, do you (or anyone else) know if any coalition politicians have used the 70% figure? or is it just Labor/The Greens citing it.

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  8. Michael Faulkner Gmail email

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Since the time of the Whitlam government, the hands of Rupert Murdoch have been all over Australian election outcomes, and that includes state governments as well.

    In the early 1990s, under the editorship of Piers Ackerman, the Herald-Sun ran a long strident campaign against the Cain-Kirner government. After Jeff Kennett was elected, in the weeks following this change of government, Ackerman, Murdoch's general, was transferred to Sydney, no doubt well rewarded for job well done.

    Though almost three decades an American citizen now, Murdoch continues to influence electoral outcomes, in ways not independent of his own commercial interests.

    Indeed, he seems to assume the imperious stance of ( and courtesy of John Howard's phraseology ) 'We will decide who will govern country and the manner in which it is governed. '.

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    1. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Michael Faulkner Gmail email

      Perhaps Michael it is time for Australia to follow the Fiji example and require all media to be owned by natural persons who are citizens only of that country. Then there can be no misconception of serving two masters' and would provide an opportunity to diversify at least print media ownership.

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  9. Liz Minchin

    Queensland Editor at The Conversation

    Dave McRae raises this point: "In a piece in TheConversation, http://theconversation.com/australias-lamentable-media-diversity-needs-a-regulatory-fix-12942, the source (first link) is http://cpd.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Centre_for_Policy_Development_Issue_Brief.pdf that has "News Limited controls the majority of the newspaper market in Australia with almost 70 per cent of the market-share within the capitals..."+ pointed to the reference: http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1104&context=apme&seiredir=1#search=%22media%20owneship%20comparsion%20australia%22

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  10. Terry Flew

    Professor of Media and Communications at Queensland University of Technology

    Thanks to everyone for their comments thus far. I suspect that two issues are being conflated in the commentary: (1) whether News Corporation's newspapers have a disproportionate influence over the political agenda, and whether they are displaying overt pro-Coalition bias in their election coverage; and (2) whether the statement that I was asked to fact-check, that News Corporation owns 70 per cent of Australia's newspapers, is accurate.

    The first issue has been extensively covered on this site…

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    1. Clayton Werner

      Customer Service Manager

      In reply to Terry Flew

      I think one needs to be concerned a little more with the definitions of the facts one is checking.

      Did Rudd claim 70% of newspaper titles? Or 70% of newspapers? Last time I checked a newspaper was a collection of printed pages from 1 to 128 (or however large or small said paper might be)...

      Thus if the definition is actually a newspaper itself, rather than a business - then the 70% is not too far away from the fact of the matter, something that I think warrants a slightly different summar in your paper.

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    2. Terry Flew

      Professor of Media and Communications at Queensland University of Technology

      In reply to Terry Flew

      Clayton, as noted above, the article provides a video link to what Kevin Rudd said in Brisbane on Monday. You can check it for yourself. I think you will find that I am not misquoting him.

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    3. Valerie Kay

      PhD candidate, public health

      In reply to Terry Flew

      Hi Clayton
      I agree this is the most important point and I don't think Terry Flew's comment below yours addresses it. Rudd may have made a technical error - possibly he should have said "[ almost or about] 70% of the newspapers sold in this country are owned [or published, to be even more technically correct] by News Corp."
      By focusing on this technical error around ownership vs publication, however, The Conversation has obscured the larger truth that almost 60% of newspapers sold across Australia…

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    4. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Terry Flew

      Well spotted Clayton & Valerie

      Rubbery figures and words. Blatantly obvious that Murdoch holds immense power plus the determination to use it for his own gain. Imagine if he genuinely wanted action on pollution or gave a damn about refugees... Would we see pictures of ice-caps of today compared to 30 years ago, or interviews with asylum seekers? Now that would be worth paying for.

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  11. Greg Young

    Program Director

    In regards to IBIS's finding that News holds a 42.3% markey share, Murdoch's much lower share of the UK market rang alarm bells there:

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation should be forced to sell either the Sun or the Times, Ed Miliband effectively told the Leveson inquiry, opening a new front against the embattled media mogul.

    The Labour leader said he did not believe that "one person" should "continue to control … 34% of the newspaper market" – the share of copy sales enjoyed by News Corp newspapers in the UK after the launch of the Sun on Sunday.

    http://www.theguardian.com/media/2012/jun/12/murdoch-share-newspaper-miliband

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  12. alexander j watt

    logged in via Twitter

    I can't imagine any other country being OK with such a huge foreign influence. I mean, Syria and Iran like to say that americans are influencing their politics. But at least we've got evidence.

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  13. Chris Dunkerley

    Retired but even busier

    I take the points about ownership and audit sales.

    What appears to be missed is the flotilla of mastheads that News Corp has in the suburbs and key regional areas (at least in NSW)... these are 'over the fence' circulations, not sales.

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    1. Ramon Erispe

      Scientific Publishing

      In reply to Chris Dunkerley

      In addition to the News Corp metropolitan mastheads, suburban and regional papers there is another Murdoch, who through an investment company called Illyria has purchased Australian television and radio assets. There is speculation in the investment community that Murdoch Sr. may look to consolidate Illyria's media assets with that of News Corp's.

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  14. Broughton Williamson

    Research Chemist

    I think these fact-checking services need to be more informed about which "facts" they check.

    A lot of the facts checked on The Conversation and Politfact have been about whether numerical statements by politicians are exactly correct. This often ignores how accurately these numbers are knowable and the margins of errors in measurements. Checking numerical "facts" seems like the easy option for journalists, but not necessarily the most helpful.

    I am a bit worried this will just encourage politicians…

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    1. Ben Goldsmith

      Senior Research Fellow at Queensland University of Technology

      In reply to Broughton Williamson

      Broughton,
      You raise a really important point here about checking of numerical statements versus other statements of fact. From what I have seen, The Conversation has tried to do both.

      I have to take issue with your claim about splitting hairs. The research that I used in citing the "approximately two thirds" figure is discussing newspapers sold (ie. circulation) and not the ownership of the newspaper businesses themselves. As detailed in both the original article, and in my review, the actual ownership figure is much lower than 70%.

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  15. John Pollard

    Casual Observer

    I believe Rupert is the ultimate power tripper. That's why he can't let us get on with our own little political charade without getting involved. The aim is to pick a winner and then back him to the finish line. He has to win the game, that's it! There is no morality involved nor real political philosophy. His politics change depending on time and place. Although he has mined a rich vein by espousing the far right agenda in the US. He has also been a left wing supporter when it suited him, and his pocket. As long as he is the king maker, Murdoch has justified his existence.

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  16. Steve Phillips

    Nurse Practitioner

    Even as a firm conservative voter I agree that this is beyond the pale. Id prefer they stuck to just reporting the many cock ups that Labor have performed and left it to the voters to decide which way to run.

    However the newspapers are privately owned and are hard to hold to account without draconian measures that would work in both directions. It's a free country after all not Malaysia or Burma.

    At least I can say I don’t contribute in any way to its propagation financially, however "a healthy serve of mind-numbingly stupid propaganda" is what we 'Tories' often get from our taxpayer funded left leaning ABC and that really grates.

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    1. Chris Dunkerley

      Retired but even busier

      In reply to Steve Phillips

      If you can point out any so-called "left leaning" (sic) propaganda as it occurs that would be great. Thanks.

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    2. David Rennie

      IT Contractor

      In reply to Steve Phillips

      The Opinions editor of the Australian recently reviewed an episode of Insiders that was highly criticized by their commentators and letter writers as biased to the left. His conclusion was that there was no obvious bias in the episode.

      Extremists see bias everywhere, however in the Australian's case it is well documented, particularly in their absurd position rejecting the science of Global warming. There is no comparative evidence for bias at the ABC.

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  17. David Rennie

    IT Contractor

    An interesting analysis that indicates that while the claim is technically incorrect it's not sufficiently removed from reality to be a concern.

    No doubt the LNP will respond by pointing out that only 6% of Australians buy a Murdoch paper each day and less than 1% buy the Australian which is the only 'News'paper they actually produce.

    The bias of the Murdoch press is extremely annoying, but very obvious, from their front page to the editorials letters and commentary. Their hypocrisy in pointing to bias at the ABC is laughable.

    Freedom of the press is far to important to throw away simply because of the current dominance of one player in the field. Particularly as the 'press' evolves to an internet based media, who knows how the press will get our attention.

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  18. Darin Ritchie

    logged in via Twitter

    To me this fact check was pretty straight forward and had it not involved Rupert Murdoch or News Australia then I doubt it would attract the heated, and in some cases rather silly, comments that it has.

    beyond the factual question, I don't think there is any doubt that the Prime Minister is intentionally quoting a conflated 'fact' in order to make a political point. He is trying to discredit the editorial view of the Daily Telegraph while at the same time infer collusion between Murdoch and Abbott. As a political tactic it is understandable, but it doesn't change the fact that the figure Rudd is quoting is not correct.

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    1. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to Darin Ritchie

      Darin, it does not take much to discredit the editorial view of the Daily Telegraph. By taking it so over the top they discredit their own editorial view themselves. As for whether Rudd's statement is true, or not, is in itself penny pinching.

      As I have argued Murdoch's newspapers influence on this election campaign is far more complex that simply whether Murdoch has 70% of total newspapers or newspaper sales in this country. Within that 100% of newspaper titles or sales in this country are a diverse range of newspapers with different geographical range as well as market focus. Murdoch has a very large large dominance of the state and national based newspapers. And that makes his influence much larger than a simple assessment of his ownership of newspaper titles or sales.

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    2. Darin Ritchie

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Darin Ritchie

      The fact check is straight forward and Rudd has deliberately been dishonest because it is convenient to the political line he is trying to take against News Corp. in fact Rudd is pushing several falsehoods, with the second being the now rejected suggestion that Murdoch has instructed his editors to go hard on him is to protect foxtel from Labor's NBN.

      Instead of discrediting The Daily Telegraph all Rudd has achieved is to derail an entire week of campaign messaging in order to indulge his own…

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  19. john corker

    Director of the National Pro Bono Resource Centre at UNSW Australia

    The time has come when social media can take on Murdoch. Spread the word. This is where democratisation really takes place. The only way to get the message through to News Ltd that we don't like our newspapers being so biased is to not buy, them, to cancel subscriptions and so accelerate their decline. They have gone beyond their usual defences of 'robust journalism" or "strong editorial independence" . I would rather go elsewhere for genuine reporting . Their columnists are so predictable its just self-serving. There are great alternatives online where there is much greater competition for eyeballs.

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  20. James Edsall

    Consultant

    In addition to the pain of his penetration let's not ignore the widespread corruption in his evil empire; bribes, phone hacking, lies, corruption, duplicity. And of course, humility. I think Rudd and co are right to taunt him for his bent self-interest and hysteria.

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  21. Dianna Arthur

    Environmentalist

    I am amazed at the number of posters here, who believe a corporation has equal rights to free speech as an Australian citizen.

    What News Corp is about is making sales, the recent Telegraph front page unequivocally demonstrates this goal. That this results in bias is an unfortunate consequence. Until shareholders place ethics over the value of their share prices (highly unlikely) this will not change. Therefore, truth in journalism remains collateral damage.

    With the above facts in mind, the public must carefully filter facts from sensationalism. Fortunately, we have the sources to do so available online, even for those who do not own personal access there is free access via libraries and failing that, internet cafes.

    Caveat emptor.

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    1. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna,

      You said: "I am amazed at the number of posters here, who believe a corporation has equal rights to free speech as an Australian citizen."

      And I am horrified at the number of people who seem to believe that it shouldn't.

      Do you truly believe that newspapers should be subject to censorship? By whom? On what grounds? Name those individuals who are fit to dictate what opinions a news outlet should be permitted to promulgate. Explain why I should not be free to hear opinions these people object to.

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    2. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      facts are preferable , opinions should be stated as such after facts have been presented. Censorship applies to things like , information which can endanger people, vilification etc. A code of conduct which aims to protect people by giving full factual detail within a story could be a good thing, otherwise we live in a world where control of the media, whether it be by the state, (Russia, China) or Murdoch is not much different.
      I would like to see news corp sued every time lies are confused with opinion. They'd be out of business within a week.

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    3. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      You said: "I would like to see news corp sued every time lies are confused with opinion."

      Just News? Or Fairfax, the ABC and The Conversation as well?

      I suspect Murdoch wouldn't be the only one out of business.

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    4. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Chris do you believe that news should be fabricated to suit the agenda of one man? Lying to the public is not freedom of speech, it is propaganda. Disturbing you cannot understand the difference.

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    5. Ben Gardner

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      It shouldn't. Its a **Human** right, not a corporate right.

      The individual journalist can write whatever he wants to write, the publishers should not be allowed to deliberately plot to bring down a government.

      By Whom) A co-operative organisation by all journalists.

      On What Grounds) By manipulation, fraud and refusal to report the facts.

      Explain why one man should control what 59% of the news thats feed to Australians?

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  22. John Perry

    Teacher

    Even with the media penetration News has in the USA, they still couldn't get the president they wanted last year.

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    1. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to John Perry

      Ah, John, Fox News fell on its face during the last Presidential election and was shown to all for what it is by all of its blunders on its extremely bias predictions that simply ignored the facts on the polls.

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    2. John Perry

      Teacher

      In reply to John Perry

      Let's hope the same happens to the Oz, the Teleg and the Hun!!!!

      Ahhhh, who'm I kidding ....?

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  23. John Perry

    Teacher

    Even with the media penetration News has in the USA, they still couldn't get the president they wanted last year.

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  24. Daniel Verberne

    logged in via Facebook

    Interesting article and even more interesting comments.

    I have my own biases and I try to be aware of them to avoid filtering or being overly selective.

    I think the Internet is a boon - we can really pick and choose our news sources and hopefully through that process come to richer understanding of the news than the big mastheads could ever offer on their own.

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  25. Peter Wood

    logged in via email @ozemail.com.au

    Why are there so many apologists for Rupert Murdoch? He wields unacceptable influence over Australia. It's just a fact.

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    1. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Wood

      Peter Wood,

      You said: "He wields unacceptable influence over Australia. It's just a fact."

      That is your opinion, and you are entitled to hold it.

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  26. Keith Lewis

    Student

    Well to me I've always taken the statement to mean circulation of the city dailies, because really local and rural Newspapers do not do a whole lot of reporting on Australian Federal Politics. 65% is close enough to 70% (the widely used figure) that the statement is passable imo.

    News Ltd clearly has a disproportionate amount of exposure compared to any other media organisation, including Fairfax. Mainly because Fairfax doesn't have cable News channels like Sky and Fox pumping out their News stories…

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    1. Liz Minchin

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Keith Lewis

      Murdoch has indeed packed a losing horse, very publicly. In the last US presidential election, he made it very clear he didn't think Obama should win. Google or even backtrack through @rupertmurdoch on Twitter and you can read much more - this article isn't the best wrap of his involvement but does include a few tweets: http://www.siliconbeat.com/2012/10/14/rupert-murdoch-plunges-into-u-s-presidential-election-on-twitter/

      He's a surprisingly frank twitter user, he's got himself into trouble quite a few times for saying exactly what he thinks - sometimes in a refreshing way, and sometimes without thinking enough, as in this example: http://gawker.com/5976293/rupert-murdoch-would-like-to-know-how-did-fat-lady-who-fell-thru-street-get-to-400-lbs-welfare-stamps-etc

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    2. Liz Minchin

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Keith Lewis

      Agreed - but he'd tweeted in favour of Rick Santorum, not Romney, back before the Republicans picked their candidate. So not only did he not get his preferred president, he apparently didn't even get his preferred Republican!

      "@rupertmurdoch: Can't resist this tweet, but all Iowans think about Rick Santorum. Only candidate with genuine big vision for country."

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/post/rick-santorum-wins-rupert-murdoch-endorsement/2012/01/03/gIQAzOH7XP_blog.html

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    3. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Keith Lewis

      Irrespective of whom Murdoch does or does not support he does not have a right beyond you or I to be an arbiter of politics.

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    4. Keith Lewis

      Student

      In reply to Keith Lewis

      Twitter is great and all, but that's not exactly what I meant by 'backing'. No one really thought that Santorum was going to win the primary, certainly not Murdoch. I really don't think that he particularly liked Romney, despite the fact he preferred his politics to Obamas. He doesn't necessarily treat all his 'preferred' leaders equally, I think he recognises who is a strong candidate, even if he does't particularly agree with their politics, ie Obama, Blair and Rudd 1.0. Even then Blair definitely got the most support, because he personally liked him, all about the personal relationships with Rupert I think.

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    5. Keith Lewis

      Student

      In reply to Keith Lewis

      Well no, but that's not really saying much. He has the ability, more than probably any other individual, rights don't have anything to do with it. If you or I controlled a multi-billion dollar media empire, we could be 'arbiters of politics' too, to the extent to which such a thing exists.

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    6. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Keith Lewis

      I can't speak for you Keith, but if I owned a business I would be interested in its product or service to be of the highest standard. In the case of news media that means printing the truth, good investigative journalism, reporting all sides of an issue. But that's just me, I guess you want a little of what Murdoch has. Therefore, perhaps not the most enlightened behaviour if you judge everyone by your standards - they sure as hell are not mine.

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    7. Keith Lewis

      Student

      In reply to Keith Lewis

      You 'guess' wrong. What you might choose to do and what you have the 'right' to do are not the same thing. I think it's lovely that you hypothetically would want to print 'the truth', but it's irrelevant. And if you 'can't speak for me', then don't presume to tell me what my 'standards' are.

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    8. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Keith Lewis

      But this is the whole point isn’t it Diana, that fabled businessman, Murdoch, does not run his newspapers to make a profit. So what do his supporters make of that? They think he is a really clever businessman. Well, I must admit for the rest of us poor mugs we can’t keep a business running that does not show a profit, year after year after year. We would have to admit this is unusual, but does it make him clever? Well, the mafia can run money laundering businesses year after year to reportedly…

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    9. Keith Lewis

      Student

      In reply to Keith Lewis

      Diana's 'truth' is just some meaningless hypothetical concept. There is plenty of 'truth' printed by News Ltd, that doesn't stop it being biased.

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    10. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Keith Lewis

      I can accept the proposition that truth is there, you just have to know what bias to untie from it. But is that truth in its basic definition which usually includes accuracy? Could it rather be called a reported bias just as equally, or more likely a deliberate distortion?

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    11. Keith Lewis

      Student

      In reply to Keith Lewis

      All media is biased, and most news media contains some version of the 'truth'. People need to re-evaluate their expectations of what the media is if they expect to find the 'truth' in the publications of one company.

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    12. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Keith Lewis

      A major daily newspaper usually includes reportage, opinion and analysis. From my point of view all major newspapers have been blurring the three to the point that they are becoming interchangeable. The other night on the ABC the news reader stated that the opposition if it gained office would hold an enquiry (that’s reportage) into the ALP’s botched pink bats program (that’s bias or opinion or political propaganda), not “the pink bats program that the opposition claims was bungled”. This type…

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    13. Keith Lewis

      Student

      In reply to Keith Lewis

      So all your opinions are simply the result of media 'propaganda' then are they? You've just been 'brainwashed' by, presumably, the ABC? Or does it all only affect other (presumably more stupid) people?

      The public is 'thirsty for news'? Don't make me laugh. The public is 'thristy' for trashy entertainment that they don't have to think about too much.

      Bias is unavoidable because it's inherent in what they choose to report. Then there's the footage they show, the quotes they use, the stats they use, etc, etc.

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    14. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Keith Lewis

      I did not say my opinions were formed by brainwashing or that other people are more stupid than me. If anything I'm the stupid one for watching. What I said was that repetition of the same points from a political party over and over and then picked up and repeated regularly by the media drives me nuts and I thought it safe to assume it impacted similarly on other people. I also questioned whether news readers were indifferent or just plain impervious as to just how irritating this is. I assume they are there to serve the public at least the ABC ones. And I repeat I would like my news without the rhetoric. I have listened to news broadcasts on radio that have just stated the news and found the scarcity of elaboration actually compelled me to listen to the next broadcast to find out more. Now I get a surfeit of repetition. Surely, you are more interested in the degree and type of bias rather than its claimed unavoidability?

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    15. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Keith Lewis

      Hi Kieth ... there was once a Sydney masthead called "The Truth" that set the style for page 3 girls and personal scandals,that went on to become the editorial policy for the whole News Ltd stable.

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    16. Keith Lewis

      Student

      In reply to Keith Lewis

      Driving us nuts is not the same as being 'brainwashed' as a result of 'propaganda', but yes it drives me nuts too. It annoyed me that the ABC used the terms 'pink batts' and 'carbon tax' in the first place. I used to really dislike Chris Uhlmann as I think he was the worst offender, but he's growing on me.

      Yes I'm more interested in the degree and type of bias, but it's still important to recognise its 'unavoidability'.

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  27. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    I am impressed. The authors should be congratulated for adding to the credibility of The Conversation.

    Whether you like it or not, Murdoch's papers are the most popular Australian. You cannot blame Murdoch or News Corporation for doing what they set out to do - sell newspapers.

    Many commentators on The Conversation have a visceral hatred of Murdoch and claim he has too much political power. This is a ridiculous view because if it were true, and given Murdoch's conservative leaning, there would be no state or federal Labor governments in recent history.

    The Australian electorate have a long and proud history of making up their own minds, despite being hectored by Murdoch's conservative slant or the obvious left wing bias of our tax payer funded, and wonderful, ABC.

    Gerard Dean

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    1. David Rennie

      IT Contractor

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Gerard,
      There is a quantitative difference between the 'slant' of the Murdoch press and the 'bias' of the ABC. Your own bias is obvious from your choice of the words ' slant' and 'bias'.

      The ABC employs intelligent and independent journalists who generally present both sides of the debate, This is why the LNP seeks to avoid the intelligent questioning they are faced with when interviewed on the ABC. Because they journalists are intelligent and well researched they tend to produce commentary…

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  28. Emilie Choukry

    artist

    I don't care if Murdoch owns 1% or 100%.

    His organization is supposed to report the news, not be the news or create the news.

    Let's hope the voting Australian public aren't asleep at the wheel and recall the very recent inquiry in the UK involving Murdoch , his son and the Murdoch journalists .

    The UK inquiry made clear as day the moral compass by which he runs his organization.

    Hopefully whoever wins this election it will be the result of Australians making grown up informed decisions and have nothing to do with Murdoch, his press or shock jocks or soothesayers or chook raffles because that would be the real tragedy in any election.

    I vote for Sammy J..he rocks!

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    1. David Rennie

      IT Contractor

      In reply to Emilie Choukry

      The press are not required to report news, the concept of Freedom of the Press says they can , within certain limits, say anything they like.

      The responsibility of the australian public is to assess what is said and determine if it has integrity, is correct and represents their view of the world.

      We should not suppress views which are based on self serving dishonesty, or ignorance; we should ensure that the population is aware of the inherent bias and encourage them to be more critical of the rubbish served up as fact.

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    2. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Emilie Choukry

      Sammy J for Prime Minister? An interesting thought. Perhaps he will contest the next Liberal party leadership ballot against King Malcolm.

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  29. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

    Boss

    Frof Frew
    It would help this reader to learn of the reaons you believe newspapers exist or should exist in the future,
    My impressions are that they were devised to spread factual information accurately, to distant places. I don't rcall that influence on national policies was part of the plan.
    Now that communication technology has changed, who should be bothered by what Rupert says or does? Why is the topic taking valuable academic time and space?

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  30. Dennis Alexander

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Neither the Finkelstein Review nor these fact-checkers address the issue of cross holdings and board memberships between News and other newspaper groups. This is not to say that, should it exist, it is a problem as such, but it does need to be addressed in an assessment of ownership and influence.

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  31. Garry Baker

    researcher

    And here's the flaw

    The most recent IBIS World Industry Report on Newspaper Publishing in Australia (July 2013) finds that News Australia has a 42.3% marketshare, with the company’s daily and Sunday newspapers accounting for approximately two-thirds of all daily (including Sunday) newspapers sold in Australia.

    Yes, 42% marketshare numerically by business name - However, two-thirds readership adds up up to 66%

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  32. Steven Waters

    logged in via Facebook

    who ultimately brings down a govt but the govt itself. then the voters will vote them out, or are we saying that those who are swing voters are being brained washed by the media. whats that saying you can fool some of the people some of the times. the papers only sensationalize what is already thought by many. it depends on how you look on media influence and how it is used. Rudd himself uses the media to his advantage visiting schools and having photo shoots with young school children to get in with the mums and dads. using full page ads to promote his agenda and he used that very same media to leak info about his own party to get some payback. this is from the man who wants to bring transparency into political advertisement. so its pretty rich that he can come out and cry unfair media influence.

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  33. Ben Gardner

    logged in via Facebook

    Why are people giving conglomerates human statuses? they are **not** humans, they have **no** morals.

    They do NOT deserve or should have free speech, that right is for a human individual, not an empire. If a journalist wants to write a uniformed piece, then fine but a concentrated deliberate media attack is something far different.

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    1. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Ben Gardner

      Uhm Ben ... the US Supreme Court recently gave corporations the same rights as natural persons. Perhaps this is just another example of corporations preparing the way for replacing political voting by a natural constituency with an inter-corporate carving up of public owned assets for gifting to the private sector. The Middle Ages may even be returning.

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  34. John C Smith

    Auditor

    Who cares who owns the news papers today? The established media has much less influence on the voters compared to days gone bye.

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  35. Bao-Luo Zhidao

    logged in via Facebook

    tl;dr the passions down below to find the discussion i was after; perhaps what we have hear is a possible miswording taken out of context - could it have been implicit in the statement that when we say murdoch owns 70% of papers, we mean murdoch owns 70% of papers sold? Perhaps introducing a scale of deception is necessary in the fact check - language is ambiguous; you just have to look at law to understand certain things can be interpreted differently to how they sound.

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  36. The Daily Sledge

    logged in via Twitter

    This is a link to all of News Corp assets in Australia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_assets_owned_by_News_Corp it is quite possible the Conversation has not taken account of all the assets owned in part or whole by News Corp...Rupert Murdouch, I would be surprised if this list was not correct. If you are aware that some publications are not his please affirm.

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    1. Liz Minchin

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to The Daily Sledge

      Hi Daily Sledge - could you please sign up using a real name? Strictly speaking I should delete this comment, as we're asked to keep comments from people, not aliases... But you may not have been aware of this from our Community Standards page (copied in part below), so will leave it and just ask that you re-register. It's about being fair to all contributors, otherwise we turn into another site where people hide behind fake (often multiple) names... All the best.

      "We require real names. Contributors who want to comment must use their real names when signing up for an account on The Conversation. Organisation representatives creating accounts also must use their own names. Requiring real names helps us maintain a transparent and credible forum for discussion and debate. We reserve the right to delete comments made from profiles with partial names or aliases." Read more: https://theconversation.com/au/community_standards

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    2. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to The Daily Sledge

      THank you anonymous Sledger for providing some research sources for the TC political commentators.

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    3. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to The Daily Sledge

      I agree with Liz that you should provide your name as everyone else has to on the conversation. But I do thank you for the link as it in itself provides much greater clarity on the facts of the matter than fact check did.

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  37. Jack Arnold

    Polymath

    Perhaps the best option for the Australian national interest is to require ALL Australian media to be owned by natural persons have sole allegiance to Australia, thus excluding any persons holding dual citizenship from any media ownership.

    Fiji ejected News Ltd to their advantage and Australia could learn from this experience.

    Mr Murdoch is only interested in profits and after this election could expect the Conservative Coalition to either sell-off or close the ABC for the benefit of FoxSmell becoming the only news source in Australia.

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  38. John Cook

    Retired

    "Newspaper sales per 100 Australians were 9.7 in 2011"
    I assume these were not all News Ltd papers.
    So roughly 5% of Australians buy a News publication, and are thus able to carry out Rupert's dastardly schemes?
    And are Labor voters among those News patrons? And are they so weak that they will be influenced to change to being Liberal voters?
    The influence of Murdoch on the voting public is an over-rated myth.

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    1. Giles Pickford
      Giles Pickford is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired, Wollongong

      In reply to John Cook

      John Cook has not understood the issue.

      Murdoch is a person of international disrepute who has a huge impact on Australian media. He has misled the British Parliament and he would have misled ours if we had put him to the test. He has no regard for anyone except himself and his ghastly sons.

      He does not give a damn about us or anyone else.

      We need to forget him comprehensively, not make excuses for him.

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    2. John Cook

      Retired

      In reply to John Cook

      Thanks for putting me straight, Giles.
      Now I understand - you hate Murdoch.

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    3. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to John Cook

      John I am not sure whether for Giles it is hate of Murdoch as a person or not. But as far as I am concerned Murdoch has taken news and newspapers down the worst possible path. Maybe it not all of his blame. But under him journalism and the news industry has gone from one of respect to one where journalists are put at the bottom of the pile when it comes to respect and trust.

      To show you how bad that has got journalists are now put below politicians when it comes to respect and trust. As I…

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    4. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to John Cook

      Geez Giles ... becoming a multi-billionaire is always such a mark of failure, especially as it only took the 1961 suppression of the story that JFK doubted the wisdom of invading Vietnam that gave him access to the US money market with high roller reduced interest rates and personal network of corporate deal makers.

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  39. Andrew Hockley
    Andrew Hockley is a Friend of The Conversation.

    logged in via email @bigpond.com

    Terry, a small but significant technical point. In your article you say "News Corp Australia titles account for 59% of the sales of all daily newspapers, with sales of 17.3 million papers a week, making it Australia’s most influential newspaper publisher by a considerable margin." In fact this 17.3 million figure appears to include all of the newspapers News Limited publishes each week - including the suburban non-dailies in Melbourne, Sydney, Queensland and South Australia. Based on circulation…

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  40. Venise Alstergren
    Venise Alstergren is a Friend of The Conversation.

    photographer, blogger.

    TERRY FLEW: You have sailed straight past the point. Which is that Rupert Murdoch owns seventy-five percent of Oz MEDIA. A media conglomerate which has no compunction in fixing political outcomes. Certainly he doesn't need to resort to the despicable "Get Rid of this Mob' in all his media outlets. Rather does he encourage his hirelings to indulge in self-censorship-it is hard to believe the Janet Albrichtsen, Piers Ackerman, Andrew Bolt and the rest actually believe the tripe they write, but, by golly, they'll write it for him.

    Once upon a time there was something called The Fourth Estate; aka the press which seemed to have been a concept involving a little bit of truth. Thanks to Rupert Murdoch the fourth estate has become The Filth Estate. Need one say more?

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    1. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Venise Alstergren

      Venise,

      You are missing the core of the conspiracy, Rupert Murdoch is nothing by himself. What matters is he is just a follower, an agent, of Snowball.

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  41. Stefan Treyvaud

    Marcomms Specialist

    The dominant reach of the Murdoch press (print) is a fact - clearly evidenced in one newspaper cities like Brisbane.
    Aside from all the squabbling about Murdoch himself, I would suggest the issue is not about separating the publisher from the editor (its his business to do with as he likes, within the law) - the crux of the criticism of News ltd bias is that it is on their front pages (albeit quite hysterical and unintelligent).
    What this has done is buck the established norm of putting factual news in the news pages and opinion in the editorial pages.
    Like any product in the market this will either be accepted or, if not, one would hope circulations continue downwards.
    It's possibly a fair assumption that media savvy generations can distinguish between publisher and editor and opinion etc - the public response to Fairfax calling for Julia Gillard to step down is evidence of this understanding .

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  42. john mills

    artist

    News Australia online, has four of the most popular newspapers in Australia .as an add on to the Google home page, Three of those belong to news limited, and since they put Kevin Rudd on their front page dressed as a Nazi, I wont access or read them, plus Ive stopped my prescription to the herald sun. As far as i am concerned anyone who dresses anyone up as "Hitler", in a real nasty way, on the front page of a national newspaper, isn't quite right, or is like a child without a sense of responsibility, or care maturity, or, is just a nasty piece of work,,and in my view is being violent, if that's not assault what is? i mean who needs that type of thing on the front page of "our" balanced/unbiased newspapers, sorry Mr Murdoch you can stay in the primary school playground.

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    1. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to john mills

      Methinks John Cook of Sceptical Science blog dressed or photoshopped himself as a Nazi.
      http://benfrommo.wordpress.com/tag/sceptical-science/
      What does this say about the self-promoted poster child of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming?
      Are we to stop contributing to his writings also? Just to be balanced?

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