Julian Clarke backs The Australian’s campaign against the Press Council

Julian-ClarkeThe CEO of News Corp has this morning questioned the “direction” of the Australian Press Council (APC) claiming it has gone “missing” on the issue of press freedom.

Speaking after today’s newspaper CEOs forum, Julian Clarke backed the “deliberate campaign” of The Australian which in recent weeks has begun publishing confidential adjudications before the APC claiming the self regulatory body has been overstepping its authority.

“We have concerns about certain deliberations that have been made that affect us,” said Clarke, in response to a question from Mumbrella, following the end of The Newspaper Works’s CEOs panel Future Forum. 

“I think you have to look at the four basic principles of the Council that it is there for. You know what number one is? Freedom of the press and the Council has gone missing in recent time with very important issues about freedom of the press.

“So we have expressed that to them.”

Clarke then declined to specify examples of where the APC had been absent on freedom of the press.

The Australian’s recent coverage has also included calls for APC chair Julian Disney should “step aside” from one investigation as he spoke at an event with the subject of the complaint in the last 1980s. It has also accused him of leading the APC from “watchdog to attack dog” in an editorial.

Clarke did not directly answer a question of who he thinks should take the role when Disney steps down as chairman of the in January, but said: “No I wouldn’t single Julian from anything else.

“But we are concerned about the direction, and I reckon you guys should be too, the Council has taken in recent times.”

The APC today declined to respond to the comment by News Corp’s CEO, which is one of the major funders of the body. Earlier this week it responded to the attacks by The Australian warning the credibility of the body was at stake and the situation may undermine press self regulation.

In a statement earlier in the week, executive John Pender warned: “Both The Weekend Australian and The Australian concede they have breached agreed obligations to maintain confidentiality of aspects of the Council’s complaint processes.

“Repeated breaches of these obligations, and misrepresentations of the Council’s work, can severely compromise its credibility as a preferable alternative to a statutory regulator, which currently applies to radio and television.”

In response to this statement editor-in-chief of The Australian Chris Mitchell vowed to continue his “deliberate campaign” questioning the oversight of the Australian Press Council.

Nic Christensen 


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