News Corp, the media and information services company, reported strong paid digital subscriber growth at its flagship titles during the past quarter, as its CEO reaffirmed a commitment to quality, and repeated calls for tech giants to pay a 'content carriage fee' . 

“Creativity and quality still resonate with readers and advertisers,” said CEO Robert Thomson during a quarterly earnings call, as he outlined the progress the company is making.

Subscriptions, circulation and advertising revenues are growing at Dow Jones, where almost two thirds of subscribers to The Wall Street Journal are now digital-only. Digital subscriptions to The Times and Sunday Times in the UK were up 24% year-on-year, while in Australia, digital subscriptions rose 18% this quarter and digital advertising grew strongly.

The revenue mix within the News and Information Services division is shifting accordingly, with advertising now making up less than half of revenue.

At the same time, News Corp is continuing to press the case for a content carriage fee from the tech giants. Chairman Rupert Murdoch has pointed out that trusted publishers enhance the value and integrity of Facebook, for example, and that while carriage payments would have a minor impact on the social media giant’s profits, they would have a major impact on the prospects for both publishers and journalists.

“We are committed to extracting a premium for our premium content regardless of the platform on which it is published,” Thomson stated, adding that “we are in active negotiations with Google, Facebook and Amazon, and we are in discussions with lawmakers and regulators in Europe, UK, Australia and the US”.

His comments come just over a year after Google scrapped its policy of requiring publishers to provide a minimum of three free articles a day via Google Search and Google News before people were asked to pay for content, moving instead to a “flexible sampling” model, where publishers themselves will decide how many – if any – free articles they want to provide to potential subscribers based on their own business strategies.

“Our victory over the punitive First Click Free was just a start, and it certainly assisted quality publishers around the world,” said Thomson. “And Rupert's proposal for a content carriage fee is rightly gathering momentum.”

Sourced from Seeking Alpha, News Corp; additional content by WARC staff