Australia’s commercial television networks are refusing to run an advert which accuses Rupert Murdoch of printing “misleading crap” in his newspapers ahead of national elections, the activist group behind the ad said Wednesday.
Australian-born Murdoch, now a U.S. citizen, owns mass-selling newspapers in his former homeland and his Sydney tabloid The Daily Telegraph has called for voters to “kick out” Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Labor government in Saturday’s polls.
“It was great when you could pick up the paper and get... well... news,” says the man in the ad by activist group GetUp! as he stands on his front lawn to collect his newspaper, later using it to clean up his dog’s droppings.
“But political bias presented as news is, well, misleading crap.
“Don’t let the crap decide your vote. Stand up for what you want. Tell Rupert, ‘We’ll choose our own government’.”
The left-leaning GetUp!, which describes itself as an independent community advocacy organisation, is complaining to the competition watchdog after three major commercial networks refused to air the video which has been viewed more than 270,600 times on YouTube.
“Seven, Nine and 10 are still refusing to run it,” GetUp! spokesman Rohan Wenn told AFP, adding that the Nine Network had originally broadcast the ad but then had a change of heart.
Wenn said the Seven Network had described the ad as “distasteful” and Network Ten, of which Murdoch’s son Lachlan Murdoch is a director, had said it did not want to target another media organisation.
GetUp! director Sam McLean told national broadcaster ABC it was unfortunate the ad would not receive airplay by the commercial channels in the lead up to the election widely expected to be won by conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott.
“We think that’s an outrageous breach of our right to freedom of speech,” McLean said.
Murdoch’s News Corp has made no secret of its support for Abbott, with the Telegraph running a front page editorial the day after Rudd called the polls under the headline “Kick This Mob Out”.
The tabloid has since run a string of stories against the government, including one in which Rudd was photoshopped to look like bumbling Colonel Klink from television show “Hogan’s Heroes” wearing a Nazi uniform and monocle.
News has defended its coverage, saying in an editorial on Sunday that Labor had led a “bad government” and News had been a “critical voice for our readers”.
“We are not, and never have been, cheerleaders for any one side of politics,” it said in the Sunday Telegraph editorial. “We have consistently railed against incompetence.”
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