Lachlan Murdoch invited as witness at rescheduled senate hearing

The latest media diversity in Australia senate committee sitting, which was postponed last month due to a snap lockdown in Canberra, has been rescheduled, and is set to go ahead on Monday 6 September.

News Corp co-chairman, Lachlan Murdoch has been invited to appear at the sitting, however it remains unconfirmed whether or not he will make an appearance.

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

Lachlan Murdoch speaking at Mumbrella360 in 2014

Committee chair, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young told Mumbrella: “We have called key presenters and executives of the Murdoch-owned news channel to front the inquiry to explain why they chose to put dangerous, disinformation to air.”

Hanson-Young confirmed to Mumbrella that the younger Murdoch had been invited to the hearing: “The dominance of the Murdoch-owned News Corporation is so pervasive in Australia’s media landscape. The committee has called News Corp co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch to front the inquiry to explain his role in the direction of Sky News and News Corps other media outlets.”

“Mr Murdoch has the opportunity on Monday to put his case to the Senate Inquiry. I look forward to asking the co-chairman about the standards of journalism and accurate reporting at Sky News and across Australia’s most dominant media company.”

At the end of July, the News Corp broadcaster received a ‘strike’ from YouTube, following the tech platform deeming it to have breached its COVID-19 misinformation policies in 21 different videos.

The Guardian Australia later reported that Sky News had deleted 31 videos from its YouTube page that put into question the public health response to COVID-19, or promoted unproven treatment, ahead of the original hearing date.

The witnesses set to be questioned at the hearing on Monday will be the same otherwise, with former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd,  Sky News Australia CEO, Paul Whittaker and a panel of Sky News presenters including Alan Jones, Rowan Dean and Rita Panahi set to appear.

Sky News Australia presenter Alan Jones is to appear on Monday

If Murdoch is to appear, it would likely be remotely, as Murdoch normally resides in the United States.

YouTube VP for government affairs and public policy, Leslie Miller and director for public policy at Google Australia and New Zealand, Lucinda Longcroft will appear in the afternoon session, with Nerida O’Loughlin, chair of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the deputy Creina Chapman and GM, Cathy Rainsford also appearing for questioning.

Last month, Senator Hanson-Young and Rudd both approached ACMA to ask why the regulator was not taking action, leaving it to a tech company to impose sanctions on the broadcaster, with the Senator further asking today why the ACMA failed to act.

“The parallels between the promotion and dissemination of Covid lies and conspiracy theories on Sky News has clear parallels with the false and dangerous claims of the stolen US election which resulted in the Capitol riots. There are serious questions to be asked of media outlets who pedal lies and the media authority that regulates them.”

Sky’s Whittaker wrote to YouTube global CEO, Susan Wojcicki last month, complaining that the policies imposed were “internally inconsistent and incapable of compliance”. Following the initial strike ban, Sky News Australia’s digital editor, Jack Houghton wrote an opinion piece arguing that the crackdown from YouTube was “a disturbing attack on the ability to think freely”.

Sky News Australia was contacted this morning ahead of the hearing, however had no response at the time of publishing.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.