News Corp employed a top hacker to develop pirating software, a court has heard.

Media network Dish is suing News Corp for $900m in lost revenue and system-repair costs resulting from pirated smart cards. Dish claims they were created by Christopher Tarnovsky who, the company claims, hacked into its satellite network following orders from News Corp and stole security codes to create the cards with.

US EchoStar Communications, which has since split into two companies Dish and EchoStar Corp, originally brought the case against News Corp.

Tarnovsky admitted to the court that he was hired by News Corp, but he denied that he used his software for hacking purposes, instead claiming he was hired to test security.

Tarnovsky claims his first payment of $20,000 was paid in cash and hidden in electronic devices mailed from Canada.

"I never got money for reprogramming Echostar cards," Tarnovsky told the court. "Someone is trying to set me up."

The trial continues.