Everybody’s favourite octogenarian media tycoon is at it again. This time, Rupert Murdoch is accused of hiring hackers to crack a pay-TV rival’s encryption system and then post the hack on the internet in order to financially cripple them. It worked: they’re now bust.
The BBC reports that Murdoch enlisted Lee Gibling to hack the smart cards used by pay-TV rival ITV Digital in their set-top boxes. Then, the details were leaked across the internet so users of the ITV service could avoid paying their monthly subscription fees.
Like much of the news created in Murdoch’s wake, this story has been well-hidden until now — in fact, the practice saw ITV’s pay-TV company go bust in 2002. ITV Digital’s former chief technical officer, Simon Dore, told the the BBC that the hacking was:
“…the killer blow for the business, there is no question. The business had its issues aside from the piracy… but those issues I believe would have been solvable by careful and good management. The real killer, the hole beneath the water line, was the piracy. We couldn’t recover from that.”
His plan worked, then. Since 2002, Murdoch’s own pay-TV company — BSkyB — has been a dominant force in UK pay-TV. British regulators are, however, investigating whether he is “fit and proper” to be in control of BSkyB. [BBC]