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Kevin Rudd is calling for a royal commission into Rupert Murdoch’s intent ‘to kill the NBN’

Kevin Rudd has been a vocal critic of Rupert Murdoch’s monopoly on Australian media for some time, going as far as describing the media magnate as “a cancer on democracy”.

In recent months, Rudd has been calling for a royal commission into the ownership and lack of diversity in Australian media.

He’s got a point. Murdoch runs more than a media company – it is a political entity forwarding its commercial and ideological interests.

Murdoch has grown News Corporation into a cross-media empire that includes newspapers, magazines, websites, television channels and providers, and even an NRL team.

But one of News Corp’s strongest assets is its television division, which includes Foxtel, Fox Sports, Sky News, Business and Weather, and A-PAC. Murdoch’s influence over Australian media can’t be understated.

As Prime Minister, Rudd experienced that first hand. He has outlined his less-than-stellar experience in his new book, Kevin Rudd: The PM Years, and did a Reddit AMA as promotion.

After fielding questions about racial tensions, global politics, climate change and where he keeps his tomato sauce (the fridge), Rudd was faced with questions about the failure of the NBN.

He took the chance to throw some pretty wild – and groundbreaking if found true – accusations at Murdoch and News Corp.

Rudd accused the conglomerate of directly sabotaging the NBN to ensure the sustainability of Foxtel.

“A key piece of evidence for Murdoch’s determination to kill the NBN (that is the Fibre to the premises version that we launched) can be found in the compulsory filings by News Corp on the New York stock exchange back in 2013 – the year of the critical election. Under the rules of the New York stock exchange, publicly listed companies have to inform shareholders of any technology based threats to the core business operations of the company. News Corp were therefore required back then to state explicitly that their television operations were subject to significant challenge by internet based competitors unless News Corp acted to protect their interests. From memory that was in July 2013.

The election was held in early September. It was no coincidence that when the Liberals came up with an NBN that was only Fibre optic to the node (therefore killing the last link between the node and the household) that News Corp embraced it with open arms. Abbott and Turnbull actually launched their policy at Fox Studios in Sydney, fully owned, of course, by News Corp. I believe it’s critical given the enormous loss to Australia that this resulted in (both in terms of the undermining of this essential piece of national economic infrastructure; plus the sheer waste of billions of dollars of public investment) that it is essential that a royal commission establish all the facts on how this scandal came about.”

It makes complete sense for Murdoch to protect his monopoly over Australian media consumption in such a way. It has been a widely held theory since the capitulation of the NBN under Malcolm Turnbull, but now it could prove to be true.

If News Corp did deliberately sabotage the implementation of Labor’s fibre-to-the-premises NBN for commercial reasons, it would mean the entire country of Australia is suffering from substandard communications technology purely because a corporation wanted to protect its interests in the country.

If Rudd has a modicum of evidence behind his accusations, it certainly calls for a royal commission into the enormous loss to Australia’s infrastructure and economy.

For the record, the estimated final cost of the revised FTTC NBN, which is slower than the initially proposed FTTP NBN, is $51 billion dollars.

Rudd proposes how to deal with Murdoch’s corruption in his book, Kevin Rudd: The PM Years, which you can purchase here.

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Comment (7)

    Jayden

    Thursday 10 January 2019

    How can an individual give support and/or push for a royal commission?

    Reply

      Frank Russell

      Thursday 10 January 2019

      How can an individual destroy the NBN and change Prime Ministers when he feels like?

      Reply

    Peter Roberts

    Thursday 10 January 2019

    There should be a Royal Commission into how so much tax payer money has been blown forciing Australians on to an inferior and expensive monopoly tixed broadband service.
    Hopefully the debacle that is NBN has been a valuable reminder why Government has no place trying to nationalise and monopolise technology services.
    Thank God market based forces are rapidly providing competitive broadband via wireless. But the disgusting abuse of taxpayer money and Government power remains an awful blight on our economic and political development.

    Reply

      Mitch

      Thursday 10 January 2019

      Fibre is not inferior to mobile and had it been left to the telcos, without the competition of the NBN we may still see the outrages low capped plans of the past for wireless, which still do not even compare to that of the NBN.

      Had the liberals left the original infrastructure plan in place, there wouldn’t be a future required cost of going back and doing the same work in 15 years time when the current mixed infrastructure is well behind that of the rest of the world, the Internet is not going to slow its creep of gradually requiring a better connection because 25m Australians can’t keep up.

      Until wireless congestion issues can be fixed in densely populated areas it will never be an adequate replacement for fibre.

      Reply

        Peter Roberts

        Thursday 10 January 2019

        I did not mean fibre was inferior to mobile. I meant NBN is an inferior fixed broadband solution in terms of capacity and cost compared to global benchmarks.
        Due to the nationalised monopoly of fixed broadband the only alternative consumers have is mobile, which with 5G may provide a viable alternative.
        If coalition had continued with Labor NBN plan it was estimated to have cost at least $60bn and I saw some estimates as high as $85bn.
        Why people are so blase about the extravagant use of such extraordinary sums of taxpayer $ is beyond me.

        Reply

    Raj

    Thursday 10 January 2019

    FTTC speeds are enough to kill Foxtel as was proven by the last FIFA world cup. Though there were hiccups with the mobile app, the Fetch TV based streaming service through the Fetch box ran very smoothly and it still does for the EPL. I still dont have NBN and currently run Netflix, Fetch and all other stuff through an ADSL connection. Notably, I had to cancel my kayosports subscription due to streaming issues.

    Reply

    Mark

    Friday 11 January 2019

    Just go to the election promising to reinstate the FTTP NBN that was originally planned! A sure fire election winner

    Reply