Ofcom to Investigate 'Hacking' of News Corp's Pay-TV Rival

The Independent (London, England), March 28, 2012 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Ofcom to Investigate 'Hacking' of News Corp's Pay-TV Rival


Spotlight on allegations that Murdoch firm leaked codes that let viewers tune in for free

The broadcasting watchdog Ofcom is to investigate claims that a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp helped to hasten the demise of one of its British pay-TV rivals through the activities of a piracy website.

The television regulator said yesterday that it would consider "all relevant evidence" after a senior Labour MP called for it to look into allegations by the BBC's Panorama that NDS, a London- based News Corp company specialising in satellite television technology, leaked codes that could have been used to create counterfeit smart cards for the now defunct ITV Digital.

It emerged earlier this month that Ofcom has already stepped up Project Apple, its investigation into whether Mr Murdoch's son, James, is a "fit and proper" person to sit on the board of BSkyB and whether News Corp should be allowed a controlling stake in the satellite broadcaster.

Any evidence that the toxic swirl of allegations of wrongdoing and criminality engulfing Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper business is beginning to taint News Corp's pay-TV operations, including BSkyB, will be particularly unwelcome in a company which has made satellite broadcasting the cornerstone of its global success.

NDS, which is being sold to computing giant Cisco for $5bn, has flatly denied the Panorama claims, describing them as "simply not true". It said: "It is wrong to claim NDS has ever been in possession of any codes for the purpose of promoting hacking or piracy."

Last night, further claims were published by an Australian newspaper alleging that NDS was also facing questions about tactics deployed against News Corp's pay-TV rivals in the country.

At the heart of the latest claims, which focus on the strenuous and expensive efforts of pay-TV companies to maintain the integrity of their encryption systems in a ruthless world of pirates, lies an elite strata of "super-hackers" whose genius was to be able to penetrate security codes which their manufacturers claim to be unbreakable.

The rapid expansion of satellite television in the late 1990s and early 2000s brought with it a shady sub-culture of middlemen and computer whizz- kids, many of them fitting the stereotype of lank- haired teenagers bent over keyboards in their garages, who enjoyed the sport of cracking the codes in the smart cards that customers into their set-top boxes to watch programmes.

Their work enabled a lucrative trade to spring up in illegal, pirated satellite smart cards from Asia to Europe and Australia to America. One such maverick was Oliver Kommerling, a German hacker adept at unlocking encryption cards, including that of Mr Murdoch's Sky TV in 1996.

Mr Kommerling told Panorama that after he targeted Sky TV, he was approached by Ray Adams, the former head of criminal intelligence at Scotland Yard who was the NDS head of security.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Ofcom to Investigate 'Hacking' of News Corp's Pay-TV Rival
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?