News Corporation’s board of directors has adopted a policy to annually disclose all the company’s political donations. The media giant — which owns Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and 20th Century Fox — made the move quietly on April 12, but it was reported this weekend by the Associated Press. In a statement, the company founded and controlled by Rupert Murdoch said it would make the disclosures on its website.
“News Corporation will post on its web site all corporate political contributions made in the 2011 calendar year by January 16, 2012,” the statement said. “As part of instituting this policy, News Corporation intends to provide transitional disclosure on its web site of all corporate political contributions made from January 2011 through June 2011 by July 15, 2011.”
News Corp. attracted media attention during the 2010 election for two large donations: one to the Republican Governors Association and another to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The New York Times reports that the company’s decision may have been spurred by shareholders who raised concerns at a meeting in October. An executive of one of those shareholders told the Associated Press her foundation was concerned about the value of the donations.
“Our concern was not only that shareholders found out not through the standard decision-making process but through media reports, but more importantly that this was shareholder money that was being used — but it was not being used for a clear rationale for furthering shareholder value,” Laura Campos, director of shareholder activities for the Nathan Cummings Foundation, said.
At least one News Corp. foe isn’t satisfied with the policy change.
“Unfortunately, the new policy has the style but not the substance of transparency,” Media Matters Executive Vice President Ari Rabin-Havt told the Associated Press. “Filing contribution information in the next calendar year in no way meets standards of disclosure. The public deserves to be informed about News Corp.’s financial backing of candidates before an election, so that they can assess for themselves the bias of the coverage they see on Fox News.”
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com