Media diversity inquiry: News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson raises concern about tech giants

Asia's Tech News Daily

Media diversity inquiry: News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson raises concern about tech giants

News Corp’s chief executive Robert Thomson has raised concern about the potential for global online media platforms to move into Australian sport.

Speaking to the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee via video link from New York, Mr Thomson said he had “no doubt” that platforms such as Facebook had the capacity to move into the sporting arena.

“Last time I looked they were about 67 times larger than us,” he said.

While he had no knowledge of any imminent bid, the big social media platforms “obviously understand that sport is compelling content”.

“I have no doubt they’ll be in the Australian markets as buyers very soon,” he said.

Mr Thomson said any tech giants that operate in Australia should be subject to local regulation.

“They are a publisher. They publish information,” he said.

While there were a myriad ways for complainants to raise concerns about print issues, there was no such recourse when it came to the tech giants, he said.

Mr Thomson said many jurisdictions were looking at how to regulate the tech giants.

“The world is looking for ways to oversight these companies … how to define their roles, how to define their obligations,” he said.

Asked by Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg about his perceptions pf Facebook, Mr Thomson said he personally had a lot of respect for Mark Zuckerberg, “but as these companies become large and successful.. they become more bureaucratic”

“I think sometimes Mark’s intention gets lots in the bureaucracy,” he said.

Asked by committee chair Sarah Hanson-Young about the News corp Mission Zero series on the risks of climate change, Mr Thomson said the Glasgow COP26 conference had helped prompt the need for the content.

In his opening statement to the committee, Mr Thomson said News Corp’s policy on environmental issues was consistent with Rupert Murdoch’s 2006 statement that “the planet deserves the benefit of the doubt”.

He rejected a suggestion from Senator Hanson-Young that the company took a collective approach on issues.

In the UK, The Times and Sunday Times took diverging approaches on Brexit, he said.

Senator Hanson-Young appeared to suggest that the Mission Zero series demonstrated a lack of diversity within the company, but Mr Thomson stressed individual editors made decisions about content.

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