Over 500,000 Australians have demanded their government investigate the dominance of Rupert Murdoch's media empire, after signing a petition launched just over three weeks ago by former Aussie Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
According to CNN, the petition calls for a Royal Commission - the country's highest form of public inquiry, to "investigate threats to media diversity," as well as claims that the media empire encourages "deliberately polarizing and politically manipulated news."
The petition also called out tech giants Google and Facebook over their relationship with the mainstream media, however the bulk of the request focuses on Murdoch's empire.
"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," reads the petition. "This power is routinely used to attack opponents in business and politics by blending editorial opinion with news reporting."
In a Wednesday tweet, Rudd said he was "grateful and overwhelmed" by the response.
Half-a-million Australians have spoken. They’ve smashed the records to make their voice heard: Australia needs a #MurdochRoyalCommission to protect the lifeblood of our democracy.— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) November 4, 2020
I am grateful and overwhelmed.
This fight is far from over. Get updates: https://t.co/21Nkve0o0h pic.twitter.com/igmDxKbUMc
Rudd has been outspoken about what he considers the toxic influence of Murdoch's media properties. He has called the billionaire's news empire a "cancer on democracy" in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, and likened the organization to the mafia in an interview with CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter in May.
"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. -CNN
In 2018, investigators from the European Commission raided the British headquarters of the Murdoch entertainment empire to seize documents and computer records. While the nature of the investigation was unclear, it's notable that the European Commission has powers to raid businesses suspected of abusing their dominance of a market or being involved in a price fixing cartel. Among the permitted actions, investigators are able to take copies of documents and computer records, and ask for explanations from executives.
Read the rest of the report here.