L. Murdoch threatens Oz gov’t

News Corp. loadest opponent of digital TV policy

SYDNEY — News Corp. Australia topper Lachlan Murdoch blasted the conservative government’s just-released digital TV policy today by implicitly threatening to freeze further investments Down Under.

As is increasingly common with media policy changes, the government came under fire from all almost all of Oz’s media moguls, with News Corp. the most disgruntled.

Australia’s restrictive media rules prevent News Corp. from having an Oz terrestrial TV presence owing to Aussie-born News Corp. topper Rupert Murdoch’s U.S. citizenship and control of two-thirds of Oz’s newspaper market.

In a major defeat for Murdoch, the government remained firm in its determination to give free digital spectrum to existing webs backed by Kerry Packer, Kerry Stokes and CanWest until 2008, while banning the new TV license that Murdoch lobbied for until that time.

Another victory for the local webs (and the main reason for Murdoch’s ire) came in the form of a new policy that places restrictions on datacasting activities — the only Oz digital area left for News Corp.

Meanwhile, Packer and CanWest are miffed about the new policy because they are barred from multichanneling.

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