Rinehart supports 'effective' Fairfax charter

Last updated 16:53 27/06/2012

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Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting has made its first statement on editorial independence at Fairfax Media, saying it "supports journalistic integrity and accuracy" but says the company has already repeatedly overridden the principle in the past by ordering journalists to support Earth Hour.

In a statement released to the media, Hancock Prospecting chief development officer John Klepec said Fairfax - owner of this website - had an abysmal track record and declared two board seats were not enough to allow Hancock to make the company "sustainable".

Hancock is Rinehart's private company, through which she owns 18.67 per cent of Fairfax.

He said Hancock would be prepared to endorse an "effective" charter of independence, "assuming one can be agreed".

Klepec said active consideration of content or a change in content was needed to attract more readers and advertising to the mastheads.

"We are prepared to acknowledge the Fairfax Media Board Governance Principles (FMBGP) exist subject as they must be, to the overriding fiduciary duties of directors. We note that the FMBGP has been repeatedly overridden in the past - for example, by ordering journalists to support Earth Hour, when Fairfax was involved with part of Earth Hour, and again when the Age was losing circulation the Fairfax Media board gave editorial direction," Klepec said.

"We note also the FMBGP contains provisions outside of what has been reported in the media, to include special powers for the chairman who holds less than 0.004 per cent of Fairfax Media.

"We are certainly in support of journalist integrity and accuracy, these are important principles in journalism, and are keen to support an effective charter to endorse this in the interests of Fairfax Media, assuming one can be agreed.

"Fairfax Media has an abysmal track record and our intention is should we be in a position to have sufficient seats to influence the board, which it is doubtful two seats would bring should only two seats be offered, we would like to aim towards making Fairfax Media sustainable.

"The board requires new members to assist in this as it has plainly not delivered for the last several years of declining share value. Active consideration of content or a change in content is required to attract readers and advertising revenue in the interests of shareholders, together with other options to increase revenue and hence share value."

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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