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ITV Digital collapse: Telegraph says News Corp may face questions over 'funding piracy'


By Noel Young | Correspondent

March 27, 2012 | 4 min read

In a media business, well used by now to gasp-inducing stories out of News Corp, not everyone twigged today the importance of the story about Sky TV and the collapse of its rival, ITV Digital.

Rupert Murdoch: new shock

Apart from the Guardian, however at least one other UK paper did: the Telegraph. The story could not be found on the Times website, nor on the website of Murdoch's flagship US paper, the Wall Street Journal.

Under the headline "News Corp Firm is accused of sabotaging rival" the Telegraph's Crime Correspondent reported, "A company part-owned by News Corporation was complicit in the posting of hacked information on a website which led to the collapse of one of Rupert Murdoch’s main digital television rival in the UK, a BBC documentary has alleged."

There is that word 'hacking' again. Panorama claimed, said the Telegraph, that NDS, a subsidiary of News Corporation, hired a man who ran a piracy website and had him post codes which allowed viewers to watch ITV Digital channels for free, said the Telegraph

The widespread availability of the codes led to the collapse of ITV Digital, previously ON Digital, killing Sky TV’s main rival in 2002 just four years after the venture was launched, said the Telegraph.

"If proven the allegations will cause even greater damage to the reputation (of) Rupert Murdoch’s empire, and could leave the company facing questions over whether it funded piracy"said the Telegraph.

Shortly before its collapse ITV Digital had entered into a £315m television deal with the Football League. "When the money did not materialise many clubs struggled for survival." said the paper.

ITV Digital's former chief technical officer, Simon Dore, told the programme that piracy was "the killer blow for the business, there is no question".

Murdoch was reportedly quite pleased earlier his month when the firm at the heart of the story, NDS , of which News Corp was part owner, was sold for $4 billion to Cisco systems. Cisco said it was attracted by NDS’s technology.

Prior to the Panorama broadcast a News Corporation spokesman said: “NDS has consistently denied any wrongdoing to Panorama and we fully

accept their assurances.”

A spokeswoman for NDS said “NDS is a global leader in the fight against pay-TV piracy, having repeatedly and successfully assisted law

enforcement in that important effort.

“It is simply not true that NDS used the Thoic website to sabotage the commercial interests of ONdigital / ITV Digital or indeed any rival.

“It is wrong to claim that NDS has ever been in the possession of any codes for the purpose of promoting hacking or piracy.”

MORE MURDOCH NEWS: In the US, a PBS film on News Corporation, Murdoch’s Scandal, is due to air tonight. The programme discusses what happened to some of those who took on News Corp., including Mark Lewis, the lawyer who would ultimately represent more than 80 victims of phone hacking.


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