A secret unit within Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation promoted a wave of high-tech piracy in Australia that damaged Austar, Optus and Foxtel at a time when News was moving to take control of the Australian pay TV industry.
The piracy cost the Australian pay TV companies up to $50?million a year and helped cripple the finances of Austar, which Foxtel is now in the process of acquiring.
A four-year investigation by The Australian Financial Review has revealed a global trail of corporate dirty tricks directed against competitors by a secretive group of former policemen and intelligence officers within News Corp known as Operational Security.
Their actions devastated News’s competitors, and the resulting waves of high-tech piracy assisted News to bid for pay TV businesses at reduced prices – including DirecTV in the US, Telepiu in Italy and Austar. These targets each had other commercial weaknesses quite apart from piracy.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is still deliberating on final details before approving Foxtel’s $1.9 billion takeover bid for Austar, which will cement Foxtel’s position as the dominant pay TV provider in Australia.
Read More: Pay TV piracy hits News