Rupert Murdoch Switching Sides On Free Content?

from the say-what-now? dept

At one point, it seemed like Rupert Murdoch was all on board with moving away from newsprint and towards an online world where content was free. After all, way back in 2005 he declared that newsprint was on the way out, and then, prior to taking over the Wall Street Journal, he hinted that he thought the WSJ could do even better by making its content entirely free. However, after taking over Dow Jones, folks who run WSJ.com convinced him otherwise -- and now it sounds like he's gone entirely over to the other side. In a talk at a cable industry event, he reportedly said: "The question is, should we be allowing Google to steal all our copyright ... not steal, but take. Not just them, but Yahoo."

Well, at least he corrected himself (sort of) on calling it "stealing" -- though, even then it's not right. First off, it would be the content, not the copyright that's being used. And it wouldn't be either "taken" or "stolen." But, even more to the point, if Murdoch doesn't want Google or Yahoo linking to his properties, that's easy. He can just ask them to stop and they will. So, to claim that it's somehow unfair that Google and Yahoo are "taking" that content is flat-out wrong. News Corp. hasn't blocked the crawlers, so obviously the company feels it gets some benefit from Google and Yahoo.

Then he moved on to the question of free content:
"People reading news for free on the web, that's got to change."
That's about 180 degrees from what he said just a year and a half ago, when he noted:
"We are studying it and we expect to make that free, and instead of having 1 million [subscribers], having at least 10 million to 15 million in every corner of the earth.... Will you lose $50 million to $100 million in revenue? I don't think so. If the site is good, you'll get much more."
Perhaps Murdoch of today should go talk to Murdoch of 2007.

Or, he should go talk with Martin Langeveld who actually tried to do the math on subscriptions vs. the loss in advertising from a much smaller base, and has a lot of trouble finding any model of paid content that would offset the loss in advertising. In fact, the more he looked, the worse it seemed, as the loss in advertising revenue from putting most content behind a paywall is significantly more than any subscriber revenue.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Ima Fish, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 10:50am

    This continuous and completely meritless attack by news agencies against Google is beyond strange. As I said, it is completely without merit because Google News only points to news sources that want such traffic. In other words, it does it with permission so there is absolutely no taking of any content.

    Furthermore, because it is obvious that news agencies want the traffic from Google News, it's quite apparent that if anyone should be paying, it should be the news agencies. If they want the service Google provides, then it should be worth paying for. That's the way our system works, if you want someone to provide a service, you pay for it. Not the other way around.

    But yet despite the frivolous nature of these attacks, they continue time and time again. I personally think this is nothing more than a shake-down by the media status quo. They're going to continue attacking anything on the net (Google, Yahoo, and what ever comes next) until they get a cut.

     

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  2.  
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    Garrett, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 10:53am

    "People reading news for free on the web, that's got to change."

    good luck with that, Rupert!

     

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  3.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 6th, 2009 @ 10:54am

    Re:

    This continuous and completely meritless attack by news agencies against Google is beyond strange.

    Not really. Google caved in a couple cases early on, so they now look like a potential source of direct revenue, vs. a source of indirect revenue. Corporations much prefer a few cows to milk, rather than try to justify their existence day by day.

     

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  4.  
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    Ima Fish, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 10:57am

    Re: Re:

    "Corporations much prefer a few cows to milk, rather than try to justify their existence day by day. - ChurchHatesTucker"

    Awesome, I might use that for my Slashdot tagline!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 6th, 2009 @ 11:27am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Awesome, I might use that for my Slashdot tagline!

    Fantastic. Of course, I'd expect a small fee for each post...

    OK, not really. (I'm OECD on /. BTW)

     

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  6.  
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    lulz, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 11:50am

    Ugh

    People like Murdoch are sooo disconnected with the internet it's sick. I get my business news -- right here (it's a blog site, but it offers news and discussion interesting to me, screw mainstream news). You can't charge me for news. It's an idea. A thought written down and digitized.

     

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  7.  
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    Overcast, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 11:58am

    Yep....

    "People reading news for free on the web, that's got to change."

    Then take your news off the web for free pal - we'll just use other news sites. As a matter of fact; I avoid Murdoch's like the plague now anyway. Wouldn't trust anything coming from him or his companies any further than I could throw a rack full of Linux servers ;)

     

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  8.  
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    Sue Jones, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 11:59am

    grrrr

    I agree Murdoch is disconnected from the Internet, but who's connected and advising him? Maybe they need to get disconnected ! UK Web Hosting

     

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  9.  
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    crashoverride, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 12:35pm

    Funny he has no problem taking Google's money for an exclusive advertising partnership on Myspace

     

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  10.  
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    Lucretious, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 12:50pm

    "People reading news for free on the web, that's got to change."

    I keep re-reading that and each time it just disturbs me more and more.

     

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  11.  
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    Rosetta Stoned, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 1:55pm

    "People reading news for free on the web, that's got to change."

    Put the clock back to 1997, Rupie baby? I was reading online news for free as far back as 1992, but as an older student returning to college in '97, I was writing research papers using online newspaper articles as some of my cited sources. These were A+ list newspapers.

    A few articles cost a dollar or so, but most were free, even then. Time Magazine Co. had a website that was way ahead of anything else available at that time. You could access the entire family of Time Magazines (including any magazine the company owned) and their historical archives, for free.

    The company eventually pulled the plug on this web portal and I recall being disappointed, as it was a very well-organized and easy to use website.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 2:09pm

    What's changed?

    I thought newspapers made money by selling audiences to advertisers, not papers to people. Other than 'cheap' has become 'free', what's changed in the online business model?

     

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  13.  
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    PRMan, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 2:20pm

    Here Rupert

    "People reading news for free on the web, that's got to change."

    Rupert, it's so EASY using a file called robots.txt. You can keep google from stealing all your content. All you need is two lines in the file:


    User-agent: *
    Disallow: /


    I won't even claim copyright on that. You're free to use it on all your news servers.

    That'll teach Google to stop stealing from you!

     

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  14.  
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    Weird Harold, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 4:08pm

    Re: Here Rupert

    as if most search engine bots actually respect that (they don't, even Google's bots are often very naughty!).

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 4:32pm

    Re: Re: Here Rupert

    care to back this up

     

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  16.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 6th, 2009 @ 5:02pm

    Re: Re: Here Rupert

    as if most search engine bots actually respect that (they don't, even Google's bots are often very naughty!).

    [CITATION NEEDED]

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 6:27pm

    You heard it first here folks.

    Breaking News brought to you by WH

    excuse me while I go puke.

     

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  18.  
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    cram, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 11:14pm

    parasites! tapeeworms

     

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  19.  
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    Newspaper Shopper, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 3:39am

    Can we personify the newspaper industry as Dwight Schrute?

    The problem with Print is once it goes to press, it's considered a completed product.

    The Web, however offers more ability for the article to live past a day, to something that resembles more of a "living document" that lives past a certain point of time.

    Thusly, by incorporating alternative viewpoints, a reader of a website can have a better perspective of the news based not only on the article itself, but also, what others think of it.

    It's quite simple, actually. If someone has to choose between an article with one comment versus something with a hundred, they will naturally levitate with the one with a hundred comments.

    Compare this to paper, where often comments, if they actually are mailed, are usually only sent to the Editor as and are received as an "attaboy" or "I plan to drop your newspaper". Sadly, such feedback is not timely shared.

    By relying on paper, you expect paper for the conversation. This is where the paradigm changes.

    Reference This link And yes, Comment #18, I read your info. Thank you.

    Note: This has also been cross posted here, as the subject matter held equal merit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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