Australia’s media watchdog has rapped the climate coverage on Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News, finding multiple inaccurate and unfair statements that led to breaches of broadcasting rules.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority said Wednesday that the sister channel of Murdoch’s US-based Fox News aired inaccurate statements in segments of its Sunday “Outsiders” programme.
The watchdog reviewed 80 allegations across 10 Outsiders episodes and identified code-breaching incidents in items on Antarctic ice cores, heat pumps in the United Kingdom, Great Barrier Reef corals and Japanese temperature data.
The show features three commentators with conservative viewpoints who address the news of the week.
“The program has an obligation to its audience to clearly separate fact from comment,” said watchdog chair Nerida O’Loughlin.
“Across a number of its episodes Outsiders failed to do so and did not present news content either accurately or fairly.”
Sky News acknowledged the finding in a statement, but said the complaints were lodged by former Labor prime minister and now Australian ambassador to the United States, Kevin Rudd.
Rudd has campaigned for a public inquiry into Murdoch’s media ownership in Australia — which includes a string of newspapers that have long-supported conservative politicians and causes.
Sky News noted the majority of Rudd’s 80 complaints were rejected.
“‘Outsiders’ is a Sunday morning commentary and discussion program which by virtue of its name sheds light on alternative perspectives on current events,” the company said.
The watchdog said that as a result of the complaints, cable operator Foxtel, which is majority owned by Murdoch’s News Corp Australia, would tighten controls over third-party content on its platform.
“Broadcast licensees are ultimately responsible for what goes to air, including content that is supplied or purchased from another provider,” the watchdog said.
Foxtel was also found to have breached broadcasting standards by airing programmes from US faith-based channel Daystar Television, which promoted ivermectin as an alternative Covid-19 treatment.
Daystar also made inaccurate statements that Covid-19 vaccines cause infertility and miscarriage.