Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Will Rupert Murdoch Be the Pied Piper of Paid Content?

You could almost hear the sighs of relief in the hushed, thickly carpeted corridors of high-powered media executives on Aug. 6, when News Corp. chairman and managing director Rupert Murdoch announced that he was going to start charging for online news content by July 2010. At last, they exulted, somebody was jumping in and demanding that consumers pay for a product that has been given away for nothing on the Web. And even better, that somebody was not them.

"Quality journalism is not cheap, and an industry that gives away its content is simply cannibalizing its ability to produce good reporting," Murdoch said during a call with analysts and reporters. The Wall Street Journal, which he owns, is one of the very few news operations to charge users to see its content online. Now he wants to put all his sites — News Corp. is the biggest producer of news in the English-speaking world — behind a pay wall. That includes the online output of papers that run the spectrum of quality all the way from the snobby Times of London to the grubby New York Post, not to mention broadcaster Fox News Channel (FNC).

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