Australian police probe News Corp allegations

News Corp stood to profit from the legislation failing.

Canberra: Australian police said on Wednesday they
are investigating a former senator`s allegations that a News
Corp executive offered him favourable newspaper coverage and
"a special relationship" in return for voting against
government legislation.

Former Senator Bill O`Chee recently made the allegations
in a nine-page statement to police and they were published
Wednesday by Fairfax Media newspapers, rivals of Rupert
Murdoch`s News Corp in Australia.

The newspapers reported that an unnamed executive of News
Corp`s Australian subsidiary, News Ltd, offered O`Chee
inducements during a lunch on June 13, 1998, to vote against
his conservative government`s legislation on the creation of
digital TV in Australia.

News Corp stood to profit from the legislation failing.
Australian Federal Police said in a statement today that
O`Chee`s allegations had been under investigation since
November 4.

"As this matter is ongoing, it would not be appropriate
to comment any further," the statement said.
Offering a senator a bribe or inducement to influence a
vote is an offense punishable by up to six months in prison.
O`Chee did not return an Associated Press phone call
today.

A News Ltd spokesman also did not immediately respond to
a request for comment.

The allegations are embarrassing for News Corp, whose
ownership of 70 per cent of Australia`s newspapers has raised
criticisms from within the government that Murdoch`s empire
has too much control over Australian media.

PTI

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