News Corp. chief refutes 'Panorama' claims

LONDON — Rupert Murdoch has taken to Twitter to refute allegations made by BBC flagship current affairs program “Panorama” that a News Corp. subsid undermined a rival to its U.K. paybox BSkyB by encouraging piracy.

The mogul used the micro-blogging site to accuse “every competitor and enemy piling on with lies and libels.”

Murdoch said he was “preparing to hit back hard,” although taking the pubcaster to court is not in the cards at this stage.

Monday’s edition of “Panorama” on BBC1 alleged that News Corp. encryption company NDS paid a hacker to crack codes for smart cards used by ONdigital, allowing people to illegally watch the pay TV service, which went broke.

In further tweets, Murdoch blazed, “Enemies many different agendas, but worst old toffs and right wingers who still want last century’s status quo with their monopolies.”

He concluded, “Let’s have it on! Choice, freedom of thought and markets, individual personal responsibility.”

In a more measured response, News Corp. prexy and COO Chase Carey called “Panorama’s” probe into NDS, which News Corp. no longer owns, a gross misrepresentation.

” ‘Panorama’ presented manipulated and mischaracterized emails to produce unfair and baseless accusations,” he said. “News Corp. is proud to have worked with NDS and to have supported them in their aggressive fight against piracy and copyright infringement.”

NDS topper Abe Peled called on the BBC to retract the allegations immediately.

The BBC is standing by “Panorama.”

It remains to be seen if News Corp. will complain to media regulator Ofcom about the program.

The watchdog is already investigating if the media conglom is “fit and proper” to control BSkyB, following revelations about phone hacking, and allegations of bribing police and other public officials at News Intl., News Corp.’s U.K. newspaper subsidiary.

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