Thursday, August 06, 2009

Rupert Murdoch plans charge for all news websites by next summer.

If others were to follow in his path then it would be the end of blogging as we know it.

The billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch suffered the indignity of seeing his global empire make a huge financial loss yesterday and promptly pledged to shake up the newspaper industry by introducing charges for access to all his news websites, including the Times, the Sun and the News of the World, by next summer.

Stung by a collapse in advertising revenue as the recession shredded Fleet Street's traditional business model, Murdoch declared that the era of a free-for-all in online news was over.

"Quality journalism is not cheap," said Murdoch. "The digital revolution has opened many new and inexpensive distribution channels but it has not made content free. We intend to charge for all our news websites."

Thankfully, I rarely link to any article in any of his newspapers, so it's unlikely to affect me, but should others follow his example then there is simply no way that bloggers could afford to pay for access to every single article that we link to. Nor, I suspect, could the people who read the blogs.

I think Murdoch is making a fatal mistake here by going against the way the entire online reading market works.

Some blogs, like the Daily Kos, can charge $20,000 a week to advertisers who want access to their massive readership. Murdoch, rather than raising his money through advertisers based on how many readers he has, is reversing the model, and insisting that the readership should pay.

Let's be serious, would anyone in their right mind pay to have access to The Sun online? Or The New York Post?

Sure, he might get some to pay for access to The London Times, but I simply don't think that plan will work for many of his other publications.

Murdoch said he had completed a review of the possibility of charging and that he was willing to take the risk of leading the industry towards a pay-per-view model: "I believe that if we're successful, we'll be followed fast by other media."

He said he was thinking in terms of "this fiscal year" to introduce charges. He said News Corp would avoid a migration of readers to free sites by "making our content better and differentiated from other people".

That's certainly the only way which his model is going to work. And, as I don't read many of his newspapers even though they are available to me online for free, I certainly can't see people paying for access to what News International produce.
He accepted that there could be a need for furious litigation to prevent stories and photographs being copied elsewhere: "We'll be asserting our copyright at every point."Among quality newspapers, Murdoch singled out the Daily Telegraph's run of stories about MPs' expenses as an example of news for which consumers would be willing to pay, describing it as a "great scoop": "I'm sure people would be very happy to pay for that."
The MP's expenses scandal is the first time the Daily Telegraph has had a scoop in about a decade. And I suspect it will be another decade before it does so again. And, even during the expenses scandal, it was possible to follow the story through other newspapers and media.

Anyway, I think Murdoch's plan is a flawed one, but we'll see how it pans out.

Click title for full article.

No comments: