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Lachlan Murdoch declines invite to senate hearing, Sky News panel also pull out

Lachlan Murdoch, co-chairman of News Corp has declined his invitation to speak as a witness at the media diversity in Australia senate committee hearing on Monday.

Mumbrella can also report that the Sky News presenter panel, which included Alan Jones, Rowan Dean and Rita Panahi, who were set to appear at the hearing have also pulled out, without citing a reason.

Committee chair, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young told Mumbrella that it is disappointing Murdoch declined the committee’s invitation to appear at the Senate Hearing.

“Frankly, it’s not surprising that Mr Murdoch does not wish to answer questions relating to the influence of News Corp in the Australian media landscape, or speak to standards of journalism and accurate news reporting across the Murdoch family’s news network.

“If Mr Murdoch has no issue with the way News Corp operates then it begs the question why is he refusing to front the inquiry and give evidence?”

It was reported yesterday that Murdoch had been invited by the senator to speak as a witness at Monday’s rescheduled hearing, after it was postponed last month, due to a snap lockdown in Canberra.

Hanson-Young also told Mumbrella that the Sky News presenters had backed out, providing no explanation as to why they are declining to appear, and she suggested the decision was not one they made themselves.

“Curiously their responses to the committee’s invitation were almost identical. One has to wonder if management at the Murdoch news channel has gagged them.

Alan Jones, Sky News presenter

“It’s a bit rich to be crying foul over the YouTube ban, claiming it’s an attack on free speech, but then decline to show up and have their say.”

The sitting, which will be the fourth in the media diversity in Australia senate inquiry, was originally planned to take place on Friday 13 August, following Sky News Australia seven day publishing ban by Google-owned platform, YouTube. 

Senator Hanson-Young said that despite the three Sky hosts backing out, there are a lot of questions to be asked of Sky News Australia CEO, Paul Whittaker on Monday.

“The work of this inquiry will not be stifled by a lack of cooperation from News Corp and the committee will consider the refusal by Mr Murdoch and the presenters to appear as witnesses, once we hear from the Murdoch executive on Monday.”

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