When Kevin Rudd fronted a senate inquiry — his consolation prize in a quest for a royal commission — the former Prime Minister almost exclusively talked about the corrosive influence of what calls the ‘beast’ in Australian media –Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Australia.
Rudd appeared before the Senate Environment and Communications Reference Committee on Friday morning, for the inquiry into media diversity in Australia.
Last year Rudd spearheaded a campaign to launch a royal commission into the same topic, with the ostensible purpose of examining the influence of News Corp Australia.
In the end, it was the Greens’ motion that established the inquiry to talk about the state of “media diversity, independence and reliability and the impact this has on public interest journalism and democracy”.
What did Kevin Rudd say about Rupert Murdoch at the media diversity inquiry?
But despite the broader remit of the inquiry, Kevin Rudd remained laser-focused on his critique of the influence of Rupert Murdoch in Australia and around.
He spoke about the News Corp’s large print circulation in Australia’s small media market.
“We have the highest concentration of print media ownership in advanced democracies in the world. We think it’s normal — but it ain’t!” he said.
He cited climate change denialism by the News Corp as one of the issues where Murodch’s influence is shown.
“I worry how [News Corp] skews public debate […] Why aren’t we in 2021 having a national debate and conversation about how we transition to a zero carbon economy?” he said.
During his appearance Rudd also remained lukewarm on the government’s proposed news media bargaining code, instead advocating for a “levy on teach giants” instead — something that a royal commission could look into.
He spoke about News Corp Australia’s channel Sky News Australia’s large digital, international reach, fearing the consequences ‘Fox Newsification’ of the network.
Rudd said that he feared that Australia could have an event like the US Capitol insurrection, which he blamed partly on Fox News, if Murdoch’s influence is unchecked.
Up first at the Media Diversity senate inquiry is @MrKRudd this morning.
Talking about the influence of Rupert Murdoch He says that Fox News has pushed America so far to the right that's it's practically ungovernable
— cameronwilson (@cameronwilson) February 18, 2021
Later, Labor senator Murray Watt asked Rudd what he thought of the argument that print reach is an increasingly irrelevant concept as technology has allowed a greater media diversity in digital than ever before.
Rudd disagreed, saying “pigs might fly”.