Rupert Murdoch is much in the news lately. He spoke at the National Press Club event at George Washington University, and was also interviewed by journalist Marvin Kalb. He spoke further about his strategy concerning paywalls and news aggregators.

"We are going to stop people like Google or Microsoft or whoever from taking stories for nothing … there is a law of copyright and they recognise it," Murdoch told a packed audience of students, journalists and other media professionals.

He went on to say, "We’ll be very happy if they just publish our headline or a sentence or two and that’s followed by a subscription form."

Murdoch also had some things to say about paywalls. He said that he was aware of claims that consumers will simply move on to another free news source, saying that sooner or later he thought that all newspapers would end up retreating behind paywalls. "When they have got nowhere else to go they will start paying. If it is reasonable. No one is going to ask for a lot of money."

Murdoch was effusive in his praise of the iPad, calling it "a glimpse of the future". He thought that it, and other devices like it, could save newspapers "because you don’t have the costs of paper, ink, printing, trucks."

(Though at the same time, Murdoch’s News Corp owns book publisher HarperCollins, and the book publishers have been strident in their insistence that the physical production costs only amount to about a tenth or less of the price of a hardcover book. Go figure.)

This is in contrast to his earlier stated opinion of the Kindle, which he thought was better for books than newspapers.

Certainly, if Murdoch wants to block Google from indexing his newspapers’ sites, he has only to have his webmasters add the necessary code to their robots.txt. I hope he will eventually stop posturing about it and actually get down to it; it would be interesting to see if it has the salutatory effect that he thinks it will.

Likewise, if Murdoch wants to put a paywall up and see how it affects his papers’ business, he should go right ahead. I’d like to see what happens.

In unrelated news, the military government of Fiji has decided to nationalize Fijian media, including the Fiji Times newspaper that is currently wholly owned by Murdoch’s News Corp.



  1. It’s not just newspapers which are expensive on the iPad. Magazines cost way too much. As an example, single issues of Time magazine are available for $5 on the iPad, but you get can a full year’s subscription for $15-20. I would have no problem at all paying the same subscription price as the print version of a magazine, but I won’t pay more. It’s almost as if the publishers are pricing themselves out of the e-market, so they can prove that print still rules.

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