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 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.

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Comments on “Rupert Murdoch Switching Sides On Free Content?”

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Ima Fish (profile) says:

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.

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Overcast says:


“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 😉

Rosetta Stoned says:

“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.

PRMan (profile) says:

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!

Newspaper Shopper (user link) says:

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.

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