Rupert Murdoch dismisses claims News Corp is a climate change denier

The founder and chairman of News Corp, Rupert Murdoch, has rebuffed claims his company promotes a climate-change-denying agenda.

At the company’s annual general meeting in New York, Murdoch was asked about the company’s stance on climate change: “What do you believe is the global role of News Corp in the current geo-political climate? If you do believe in climate change… why [does] News Corp give climate denies like Andrew Bolt and Terry McCrann so much air-time in Australia?”

Murdoch: ‘There are no climate change deniers around’

The question was asked by Jessica Craig, a proxy for News Corp shareholder and founder of Crikey, Stephen Mayne.

Murdoch responded: “On climate change, we have reduced our carbon footprint by 25% six years ahead of schedule. We were the first North American media company to commit to science-based targets to limit climate change. We have reduced energy costs by [US]$18m since fiscal ’14. Global paper policy to ensure 100% of publication paper is sourced from certified sustainable material. And print centres have achieved 96% diversion from brown fields as part of our zero waste goal. There are no change climate change deniers around, I can assure you.”

Craig also asked the News Corp board whether the purpose of credible news organisations was to “inform or inflame” current issues, and how the company balances the need to provide information with the temptation to drive up profits and circulation via being inflammatory.

The board did not answer this question.

During the AGM, however, Murdoch pushed the company’s “premium content” offering.

“News Corp is an increasingly digital and global company, defined by unparalleled premium content and market-leading and multi-platform brands…. News Corp is a uniquely influential media company,” Murdoch said.

CEO Robert Thomson echoed these sentiments, positing that we’re entering a new era.

Thomson: Foxtel has done an excellent job

“We are surely entering an era in which our trusted news, information and entertainment is increasingly sought by platforms, partners, advertisers and audiences globally. We intend to make the most of that emerging opportunity for the benefit of all our shareholders,” Thomson said.

Both men lightly praised Facebook for taking the first steps in rewarding and respecting its journalism, however signalled there was still some way to go in balancing the playing field between traditional publishers and tech giants.

Thomson was far more praising of Foxtel, which, according to him, is recovering.

“The new management team at Foxtel has actually done an excellent job in improving the quality of the technology and the user experience, and evidence of that can obviously be seen in the success of Kayo, our sports streaming service which launched just over a year ago, and now has 402,000 paying subscribers, and that is at a premium rate of AU$25 a month, not AU$6.99 or AU$8 a month,” he said.

He also said paid subscribers for Foxtel had grown 12% to approximately 3.1m.

Overall, Murdoch said News Corp has had a “successful year” and it was now working to optimise its profits and simplify the structure of the company.

On how it can maintain its market position and have its mastheads survive in an ever-changing environment, Murdoch said “the secret is to go digital”.


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