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Internet, your days are numbered


Free content on the web, it’s time to stock up on food and ammo, and shore up the compound, because big media is coming to get you. According to Rupert Murdoch, the solution to the current problem with everything, is to start charging:

Rupert ­Murdoch expects to start charging for access to News Corporation’s newspaper websites within a year as he strives to fix a ­”malfunctioning” business model.

Encouraged by booming online subscription revenues at the Wall Street Journal, the billionaire media mogul last night said that papers were going through an “epochal” debate over whether to charge. “That it is possible to charge for content on the web is obvious from the Wall Street Journal’s experience,” he said.

Wow. What do you think, kids. Are you going to start paying for everything again? The problem with that is that everyone would have to have a JOB again. And in order for everyone to have a job, everyone would have to start paying…oh, chicken, egg, chicken, egg.

OTOH, we kinda liked this quote from Jeff Katz in the CBR interview regarding his new American Original company:

And I might fail, but we live in a world where Sumner Redstone doesn’t know the way. Rupert Murdoch doesn’t know the way. Ted Turner doesn’t even go on the internet. So why isn’t my guess as good as theirs? At the very least, you won’t be able to say I didn’t put my money where my mouth was.

  1. Oh, okay, I see the plan now. Stop printing newspapers to cut losses. Then charge for accessing the newspaper website. Got it.

  2. This is the quote I love more than anything (from over on the CNN.com article ):

    “He said 360,000 people had downloaded an iPhone WSJ application in three weeks. Users would soon be made to pay “handsomely” for accessing WSJ content, he added. ”

    I love that “be made to pay handsomely”! You literally can see him cackling as he says that, like the entire point was to get the application on people’s computers “and they’re DOOMED now!” Wow.


  3. Every time I hear print “journalism” folks on any news outlet — NPR, FoxNews, whatever — they don’t get it. They all think people need to be educated (that’s their phrase) about the importance of news and they should somehow be forced to pay for it. How that would work usually involves some sort of federal government restrictions on who can post what online and then enforcing price controls on news websites so there is no competition.

  4. I don’t remember where, but in the coverage of these comments yesterday I saw an issue raised that I hadn’t seen before: antitrust. It’s hard to see how all these old-line publishers will be able to band together to withhold their content from the web without running afoul of antitrust laws (IANAL, though).

    That could undo their plans as much as or more than their wrong-headedness, I suspect.

  5. Sam, that’s where the price controls that I mentioned in my first post come in. The government would allow the media to consult each other and set a price for news.

  6. @Yep: I wonder if that would hold up to a legal challenge, though? Of course Congress could pass a law to authorize it, but it sounds like there would be a lot of potential avenues of attack: antitrust, first amendment, etc.

  7. “They all think people need to be educated (that’s their phrase) about the importance of news and they should somehow be forced to pay for it.”

    Most jourmalists are huge ass-hats on this subject, but…

    1. News is important.

    2. People should have to pay for it.

    It’s going to take a loooooooong time to break people of this “everything on the internets should be free” idea.


  8. The problem with antitrust, is its been what, 30 years since a real antitrust case has been used to break up a monopoly. Microsoft was ‘reduced’, but not taken apart.

    Now, I am hugely in favor of antitrust. I feel the list starts with Murdoch and Fox, then with repealing the 1995 FCC deregulations, then moving on to the banking industry, breaking up Bank of America, HSBC, Citi etc, and then moving on to Clear Channel, Infinity, Time Warner and on and on and on the glorious trail.

    It’s a multi-front fight any way you look at it, and whether it be in the courts or in the streets, I’m geared baby. Pens or battle axes, either is fine with me.

  9. As usual, Rupert isn’t happy that he has one of the very few news outlets on the Internet that customers are willing to pay for — because finance guys have so much money that newspaper/website fees are chump change — and instead thinks that he has a general model for, say, his New York Post readers.

    Not everything on the Internet is or will be free, but it’s very difficult to go from free to paid and keep an appreciable fraction of your traffic — that’s the real issue that these newspaper guys will be dealing with if they try to erect paywalls.

  10. I am curious to see if the internet’s popularity would even exist if content were paid.

    Besides that I keep telling people that the internet is like television in that you pay for the service in general, but not the individual content. Although television had/has pay-per-view, and the internet has pay-sites, neither of those aspects constitute anything resembling a mainstream.

  11. Oh, good, Rupert. That’s good; basically, declare war on the Internet, and try to change the fundamental way that Internet users use media. THAT’LL go over well. While you’re at it, why don’t you declare war with 4chan?

    NOBODY wins in a war with the Internet – even if you cut off ONE Hydra head (Pirate Bay being the latest), a score of other, NASTIER heads will grow to take its place.

    /b/ and Anonymous have hacked into the e-mail accounts of VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES, and they can sure as hell fuck YOU up too, Rubert.


  12. Internet peeps like to bitch about it, like everything else, but it is true that the internet business has destroyed them. They make the news and the internet just passes it on and on and on and on……….for free.

    But then again, that’s the problem. With the internet available, it will be next to impossible to stop or lessen people from getting information from elsewhere and posting it on here.

  13. I thought that’s what ad content was for. Charge the people borrowing the eyes of your readers, not the readers themselves. The whole point of charging for access to print newspapers is to cover the cost of actually printing the newspapers. But … tada! There are no print costs for online access, and bandwidth is pennies these days.

    But I’d tell ol’ Rupert, “Go for it ol’ boy!” Because I can’t wait to see the New York Post engulfed by cricket chorus and the final death knell of so many conservative newspapers as they fade to dust.

  14. “I thought that’s what ad content was for.”

    And the groups that the ad people want to attract also happen to be the same people who quickly work out that they don’t need to see any ads on the internet – ever.

  15. The more ignorant and uninformed a person is, the easier it is to control him.

    How do you keep people uninformed?

    By destroying the newspapers.

    It’s all a conspiracy.

  16. Net neutrality isn’t going to go away as an issue any time soon. Network service and Internet access providers will continue to try to find ways to make more money from the Internet, whether it’s from providing tiers of access or charging content providers variable rates.

    Individual users might be uninterested in Internet ads, and find ways to avoid them, but if the advertisers find that their ads aren’t profitable and quit placing them — what happens to the sites that depend on the revenue? Some links:

    Net neutrality




    Content and advertising





  17. Sounds good to me. If I respected a paper enough, I’d pay a couple of bucks for monthly access. Journalists deserve to be paid for the job they do and ad sales just don’t cut it.

    News is free. There’s nothing to stop people from relaying news items to others. What’s important is that there’s money for the news to even exist. If all you want is jumbled up information from uninformed and misinformed people, then don’t support this plan. Fact-checking costs money and it’s necessary. If someone says a guy in a turban blew up downtown Chicago when it was really a ruptured gas main that happened to blow up under a sikh and nobody bothers to find out the truth because they didn’t want to miss out on hits for delaying the story and attacks on sikh begin across the country…. the buck has to stop somewhere, but somebody has to provide the buck in question to begin with.

    Relax, people. You’re not gonna have to put up ransom money to find out who won the big game last night. This is just like when iTunes launched. Something that was free is now available for a fee.. but you can still get it for free… but it’s better if you didn’t. You’ll just need to start downloading your news illegally too.

  18. The problem is worse in the UK we already pay for the BBC via licence, and because of this the BBC has a) a steady revenue stream and b) cannot charge at the point of access.

    So whatever the other media decide to do, the BBC will still be there distorting the market (and I’m a big fan of the BBC but it does distort the marketplace).

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