Panorama claims NDS hacking brought down ITV Digital

Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch

A BBC documentary has alleged that an Israeli-founded company that was at the time a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation hired a hacker to bring down a rival digital channel.

According to the claims made on Panorama on Monday evening, software technology company NDS – which started as a Weizmann Institute project - commissioned a hacker called Lee Gibling to identify the codes used by ITV digital subscribers to access the channels.

The codes were then apparently leaked online so that people could watch ITV Digital channels without paying.

ITV Digital collapsed in 2002, four years after it launched, with a loss of 1,500 jobs. Mr Murdoch's media empire includes Sky TV, which was one of the main beneficiaries of ITV Digital's collapse.

NDS was an Israeli start-up that launched in 1988. It was acquired by News Corporation in 1992. The company, whose executive chairman is Dr Abe Peled, was sold to Cisco for £3.17 billion earlier this year, in what was claimed to be Israel's biggest hi-tech deal yet.

Simon Dore, who was the chief technical officer for ITV Digital, said that "the real killer" of the channel was piracy. He told Panorama: "We couldn't recover from that."

"NDS has consistently denied any wrongdoing to Panorama and we fully accept their assurances," said a News Corporation spokesman.

Last updated: 10:54am, March 27 2012