Murdoch questions free web content

03 April 2009

NEW YORK: Rupert Murdoch, chief executive of News Corp, the media company, has argued that the amount of free content available on the web is making current business models, particularly in the newspaper industry, unsustainable.

Print titles are expected to be among the major "losers" of the current US advertising recession, with revenues set to decline substantially, largely to the benefit of the internet.

Expanding on this theme, Murdoch said that "nobody is making money with free content on the web except search," with newspapers, in particular, suffering as a consequence.

As such, he suggested that even though "people are used to reading everything on the net for free," that is a situation "that's going to have to change."

In particular, the rapid expansion of online display inventory, which News Corp's ceo argued was "doubling every year," means companies offering free content are "never going to make money on an advertising model to replace what they're losing."

Murdoch further challenged the right of online news services, such as that run by Google, to aggregate newspaper content without paying to do so.

He also reported that News Corp has invested in an electronic hand-held reader for newspapers, similar to Amazon's Kindle book-reader, which is currently in its development stages.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff