News Limited attacks ‘laughable’ claims in AFR piracy story as Fairfax swipes back
News Limited has issued an aggressive response to the Australian Financial Review’s story yesterday that claimed that a firm owned by News Limited’s parent company News Corp promoted pay TV piracy in Australia.
A statement from News Limited described the story as “full of factual inaccuracies, flawed references, fanciful conclusions and baseless accusations which have been disproved in overseas courts.”
News Limited claimed that “the notion that alleged NDS actions in Australia were done to undermine Austar so that FOXTEL could bid for it 13 years later are so far-fetched as to be laughable.”
However, the Fin’s editor-in-chief, Michael Stutchbury, countered that he “fully stands by” Neil Chenoweth’s story, saying that report did not suggest that NDS-related piracy in the late 1990s and early 2000s was done “with the purpose of helping Foxtel to buy Austar.”
“Now that would be laughable,” he said.
The statement in full from News Limited’s corporate affairs department read:
The story is full of factual inaccuracies, flawed references, fanciful conclusions and baseless accusations which have been disproved in overseas courts.
For example, the notion that alleged NDS actions in Australia were done to undermine Austar so that FOXTEL could bid for it 13 years later are so far-fetched as to be laughable.
The United States Department of Justice, a federal court jury and a federal appellate court have all rejected allegations that NDS was either responsible for TV piracy or for distributing codes to facilitate piracy. Moreover, the United States Court ordered NDS’s accuser to pay $19m to cover NDS’s legal fees and costs.
Furthermore, the AFR has been selective in its reporting that NDS “mounted” a baseless campaign against Swiss hacker Jan Saggiori to “silence” him. The only lawsuit that NDS mounted against Saggiori was a lawsuit by DirecTV and NDS designed to protect their intellectual property and stop piracy.
Saggiori admitted, under cross examination, hacking several NDS pay-TV card systems. DirecTV and NDS had taken action against him, along with several others, for assisting in hacking DirecTV’s system. Saggiori admitted his role in that plot, and DirecTV and NDS obtained a permanent injunction in that lawsuit.
News Limited and FOXTEL have spent considerable resources fighting piracy in Australia. It is ironic and deeply frustrating that we should be drawn into a story concerning the facilitation of piracy.
Stutchbury responded to Mumbrella’s call with the following:
The Australian Financial Review fully stands by Neil Chenoweth’s extraordinary report of pay-TV piracy involving News Corporation subsidiary NDS.
News Limited today responded by suggesting that ”the notion that alleged NDS actions in Australia were done to undermine Austar so that Foxtel could bid for it 13 years later are so far-fetched as to be laughable”. However, our report in no way suggested that NDS-related piracy in the late 1990s and early 2000s was done with the purpose of helping Foxtel to buy Austar now: that would be laughable.
News Limited further also states that US courts have rejected allegations that NDS was responsible for piracy. However, Chenoweth’s report drew on masses of email material that was not presented to the court cases concerned. Legal correspondence today confirms the authenticity of these emails.
Anyone who reads Chenoweth’s extraordinary report will be struck by the complexity and murkiness of the relationships, actions and motives involved in the NDS story. The AFR welcomes any further independent investigation of the serious matters he has brought to light.
July 12 update: Saggiori denies having made such admissions under cross examination.