The Murdoch media empire has been lying in Australia as well

A Sky News Australia show misled viewers about climate change, according to the country's media regulator

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Rupert Murdoch in 2014
Rupert Murdoch in 2014.
Photo: Jason Reed (Reuters)

Last month saw Fox News, the US cable channel controlled by Rupert Murdoch, pay out $787.5 million to settle a defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems, over the network’s airing of voting fraud claims made around the 2020 US election by Donald Trump and his associates. Last week, Fox fired its most popular host, Tucker Carlson, who had voiced some of those claims. Now, a ruling by Australia’s media regulator has found another part of the Murdoch empire guilty of lying, this time by misleading Australians about climate change and covid-19 vaccines.

The latest case focuses on a “factual” program aired on Sky News Australia and some other networks, called Outsiders, which deals with climate change and sometimes seeks to debunk mainstream climate science. On April 26, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found that in four cases, episodes of the show aired in late 2021 presented misleading information as if it were factually true.


The claims were originally brought by Kevin Rudd, the former prime minister of Australia, who in 2020 set out formally to challenge the Murdoch empire’s reporting in Australia, starting a petition and later a campaign group called Australians for a Murdoch Royal Commission.

How were Sky News Australia’s broadcasts misleading?

In a detailed report, ACMA found that in four instances, Outsiders had misled viewers, including in segments dealing with carbon dioxide trapped in ice cores, temperatures in Japan, and coral on the Great Barrier Reef.


In one episode, host Rowan Dean—himself a climate change denier—claimed that the then–UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, was “mandating that everyone in Britain get rid of their perfectly good gas heaters and replace them with desperately inefficient eco heat pumps at around £10,000 to £20,000 a pop.”

There was never any such mandate. The segment refers to incentives for some UK homeowners to switch to heat pumps, if possible, over a period of more than 10 years.

“The program has an obligation to its audience to clearly separate fact from comment,” said Nerida O’Loughlin, chair of ACMA, in a statement. “Across a number of its episodes Outsiders failed to do so and did not present news content either accurately or fairly.”

In a separate ruling, the regulator found that content on two shows broadcast on Foxtel in September 2021 also breached rules, this time on covid-19 coverage. Joni Table Talk and Ministry Now “included inaccurate statements relating to covid-19 vaccines including about the regulatory approval process, the use of alternative covid-19 treatments, the effectiveness of covid-19 vaccines, and that vaccines may cause infertility and miscarriage,” according to the ACMA release.