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  • Nearly 250,000 people have signed Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's petition calling for a royal commission into Rupert Murdoch's media conglomerate News Corp (NWS)
  • On Saturday, October 10, Rudd first launched a petition calling for a commission to "ensure a strong, diverse, Australian news media"
  • In particular, the petition calls for an investigation into News Corp’s monopoly-like hold on the Australian media industry
  • The petition on the Australian Parliament’s website gained over 38,000 signatures within 24 hours, and now has over 243,000
  • On the first trading day after the launch, News Corp’s share price fell slightly

Nearly a quarter of a million people have signed Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's petition calling for a royal commission into Rupert Murdoch's media conglomerate News Corp (NWS).

On Saturday October 10, Rudd first launched an official petition on the Australian Parliament’s website. The petition in question called for a commission to "ensure a strong, diverse, Australian news media."

In particular, the online petition calls for an investigation into Rupert Murdoch’s $11.75 billion media company, News Corp, which enjoys a monopoly-like hold on Australia’s media industry.

As Rudd pointed out in his reasoning for the petition, News Corp currently owns approximately two-thirds of Australia’s daily newspaper readership. The media giant has also acquired over 200 of the country’s smaller local and regional newspapers, only to close some of them.

On Twitter, Rudd posted a video about his petition, calling on all Australians who value democracy to support it. In the video, he described the "growing anger at what the Murdoch media monopoly is doing to our country," calling the issue "a cancer on democracy."

By Sunday morning, the online petition had gained over 38,000 signatures from the Australian public, representing approximately 1,580 signatures every hour in the first 24 hours.

The unexpected and overwhelming number of visitors to the Australian Parliament’s e-petition page even caused some technical issues on the website. 

As of Thursday, October 15, the petition’s current number of signatories stand at over 243,000.

However, in spite of this strong show of support from Australia’s public, there is no guarantee that the Federal Government will act on this petition.

Some countries like the U.K. have a specific threshold of signatures which are required before the petition’s issue must be debated in parliament. Australia does not have such a threshold, meaning that the Government is not obligated to respond to the petition.

Nonetheless, Rudd’s petition for a royal commission has still dealt something of a blow to the Murdoch media.

On the first day of trading after the petition’s launch, Monday, October 12, News Corp’s share price fell sharply as the market opened. The company’s share price lost 49 cents in the first 10 minutes of trade alone, before recovering.

As the week has continued, News Corp’s share price has regained the ground it lost in the wake of the petition. However, if the Government chooses to follow up on the call to action, the media conglomerate may face more turbulent times in the future.

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