The rumor sounds like a classic conspiracy theory: Would Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp. and patriarch of the Fox network, direct his Australian newspapers to bedevil production of "Survivor: The Australian Outback," being shot in his own corporate backyard?
No way, said a Murdoch spokeswoman, despite reports that local newspapers--several owned by Murdoch--and freelance journalists have sought to breach the tight security surrounding production of the "Survivor" sequel, which is due to premiere on CBS after the Super Bowl in January.
Murdoch's papers in the country include the Daily Telegraph, the Australian and the smaller Cairns Post, which is near the "Survivor" location. Helicopters have flown over the production site seeking aerial photographs, and some in Hollywood have indicated they believe there is a desire to undermine the new "Survivor" after the first became an enormous ratings success during the summer.
"The notion is absurd," said Kris Neill, a News spokeswoman in Australia, who added that the rumor is "absolutely baseless."
News officials point out that coverage in News-owned papers has been far from excessive, and that other Australian papers, which Murdoch doesn't control, have been equally aggressive in seeking tidbits about the show. They also dismiss the notion that Murdoch has time to focus on such minutiae.