The petition to parliament was launched by former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd a little over three weeks ago and closed on Wednesday. It calls for a Royal Commission — Australia’s highest form of public inquiry — to “investigate threats to media diversity.” It also accused media businesses of encouraging “deliberately polarizing and politically manipulated news.”
“We are especially concerned that Australia’s print media is overwhelmingly controlled by News Corporation, founded by Fox News billionaire Rupert Murdoch, with around two-thirds of daily newspaper readership,” the petition said. “This power is routinely used to attack opponents in business and politics by blending editorial opinion with news reporting.”
News Corp Australia did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The publisher is one of the largest in the country and owns major national newspaper The Australian and tabloids such as The Daily Telegraph and The Herald Sun.
Rudd used social media to tout the response to the petition.
The petition will likely be presented to Australia’s House of Representatives, but lawmakers are not obligated to act on it.
“To call the Murdoch media empire a journalistic organization committed to bringing you fair and balanced news coverage around the world these days has become a joke,” Rudd said.
Murdoch’s media empire spans the globe, and its role has also faced scrutiny in the United Kingdom, where News Corp owns newspapers including The Sun and The Times.
Like many other news organizations, News Corp Australia is also dealing with disruptions to its business caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
— Michelle Toh contributed to this report.