Sky News Australia removes Covid misinformation clipson August 11, 2021 at 4:49 am

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The Rupert Murdoch-owned TV channel was recently banned for a week by YouTube.

Picture of the Sky News logo on a mobile screen

image sourceGetty Images

Sky News Australia has removed dozens of videos from its websites, after YouTube suspended the channel for spreading Covid misinformation.

The conservative TV network, owned by Rupert Murdoch, has been criticised for promoting conspiracies and questioning public health orders in its broadcasts.

In recent days it has taken down about 30 videos without explanation or making corrections.

Sky News Australia has declined to comment.

But its parent company, News Corp Australia, told local media the network had taken an “editorial decision” to remove the videos.

Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd was among the first to accuse the channel last week of “quietly scrubbing incriminating Covid-19 misinformation videos” from its platforms.

White space

The videos had showed network hosts including Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt and Rowan Dean expressing views that have been rejected by global medical authorities.

One video showed Mr Jones questioning the legitimacy of the pandemic, erroneously claiming it wasn’t worse than the “common cold”.

Another promoted an interview with a pathologist spreading misinformation that Covid was a hoax.

According to Guardian Australia, most of the removed videos talked up the drugs ivermectin and hydroxycloroquine.

Both drugs have gained attention after being promoted by figures including former US president Donald Trump. But medical authorities, including the WHO, say the evidence for their effectiveness against Covid remains unproven.

Mr Rudd and other critics have described Sky News Australia’s broadcasts as dangerous and irresponsible.

It comes as millions of Australians remain in lockdown to prevent the spread of Delta outbreaks in Sydney and Melbourne.

Fewer than a quarter of Australians are vaccinated. Frustration over restrictions has also led to several large anti-lockdown protests.

Sky News Australia executives are due to face a parliamentary inquiry on Friday, after YouTube on 1 August penalised the channel’s Covid coverage.

The network accused the tech giant of censorship, but lawmakers said the platform’s decision reflected wider concerns.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who is leading the inquiry, questioned why broadcast regulators had not acted first.

Mr Rudd, a noted critic of Mr Murdoch’s media outlets, has also written to Australian Communications and Media Authority to demand scrutiny.

“While it is unrealistic to believe that we can ever stamp out misinformation… it is especially alarming that so much of this content has been crafted and distributed by the country’s largest media company, News Corporation, principally through Murdoch’s Sky News,” he said.

Sky News Australia has a small TV viewership locally, but a big presence online with a significant global following.

The station has said its uploads drew more than 22 million viewers a month.

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