Rupert Murdoch's scramble to prevent US cable TV pioneer John Malone getting his hands on more News Corporation voting stock has attracted the attention of finance watchdogs down under.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is examining investors' complaints that NewsCorp's extension of its 'poison pill' defense against the feared predations of Malone's Liberty Media breaches promises made by the company last year.

The NewsCorp board announced two weeks ago it will extend its so-called 'shareholder rights plan' for a further two years following Malone's acquisition of nearly 18% of voting rights in the company [WAMN 15-Aug-05]. The Murdoch clan has a 29.5% controlling stake.

NewsCorp has defended its actions saying they will prevent Malone's Liberty Media acquiring any more voting stock without consultation.

However, some investors believe the move is more about protecting the clan's interests rather than those of all shareholders.

Many of the latter fear the company is ignoring the governance pledges it made last year as a quid pro quo for their approval of the group's reincorpration from Australia to the more business-benign state of Delaware USA.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff