Sky News boss says News Corp shift on climate change ‘not as advanced as reported”

During the media diversity in Australia senate committee hearing yesterday, Sky News Australia CEO Paul Whittaker commented that the reported change in News Corp (which owns Sky News Australia) editorial policy regarding climate change is “not as advanced as reported”.

It was reported in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age (both owned by Nine Entertainment Co) on Monday morning that News Corp’s major mastheads, and the broadcaster would be ending its “hostility towards carbon reduction policies”, promoting carbon neutrality by 2050.

While facing questioning over the report by Labor Senator Kim Carr and committee chair Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Whittaker said the extent of Sky News’ shift would be a documentary looking at solutions for net-zero emissions, due to be released in time for the COP 26 summit later this year in Glasgow.

Paul Whittaker speaking at yesterday’s senate hearing

“Sky News’ role in this issue, is that we have been working on a documentary looking at the issue of net zero emissions, and looking at the issue about policies and the solutions potentially for net zero emissions, what the available technology is, and speaking to a wider range of experts about that.”

Whittaker maintained that Sky news will continue its exploration of this “complex issue”, as he also said he could speak to the reports in terms of Sky News, within his remit’s reach, and that he could not speak to the other mastheads policies going forward.

“I can’t speak to the other mastheads and what they’re doing, because that’s a separate issue, and I don’t believe it’s as advanced as what’s been indicated in that report.”

Whittaker rejected the idea that this was a “company-wide campaign” across all News Corp businesses, as he said, he  “wouldn’t describe it as a campaign”, pointing to Bill Gates and micro nuclear as a potential solution to net zero emissions as an avenue the proposed documentary might explore.

“From my point of view, I think it’s one of the biggest issues facing the world, and from Sky’s point of view, we’re seeking to explore the policies and solutions. Climate, by the same token is not a costless exercise. There are going to be trade offs, and there are going to be winners and losers.

“We don’t deny climate change. I accept climate change is happening. The question is what is the solution? And what is the cost? Because as I explained, it’s not a costless exercise.”

Whittaker clarified that the “we” was in reference to both Sky News and News Corp.

On whether this reported policy, and other policies are filtered down and implemented at the request of Lachlan Murdoch, Whittaker said that “he is the non-executive chairman of News Corp and he has no role in directing Sky News or News Corp here”. He also said that he speaks with Murdoch “infrequently”.

Last year, a leaked email from a senior staff member at News Corp during the bushfires said, “I find it unconscionable to continue working for this company, knowing I am contributing to the spread of climate change denial and lies”. 

At the time, News Corp said it stood by its reporting of the bushfires, that “the dedication and professionalism of our journalists and photographers have kept the community – particularly those Australians affected directly – informed and supported”.

In January last year, Rupert Murdoch’s youngest son, James, and wife Kathryn said that they were both frustrated” at what they regarded as News Corp’s “denial” stance on climate change, in comments provided to the Daily Beast.

“Kathryn and James’ views on climate are well established and their frustration with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage of the topic is also well known,” the spokesperson said.

Last month, News Corp reached an agreement to purchase the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) for a price of $US1.15 billion (A$1.55 billion), as it said OPIS is the “global industry standard for benchmark and referencing pricing, news and analytics for the oil, natural gas, liquids, and biofuels industries”, and is a growing provider of insights and analytics in renewables and carbon pricing.


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.