Rupert Murdoch was in Sydney for the latest News Corp earnings call but that wasn’t the only talking he did down under. The News Corp (NYSE: NWS). chairman and CEO was interviewed by some of his own newsies, including a lengthy video session with Sky News political editor David Speers, embedded below. As it spun through Twitter, Murdoch was claiming his sites will remove themselves from Google (NSDQ: GOOG). Well, yes and no. He did say “I think we will” when asked if they would start blocking search engines, adding that it would be as sites start charging. Then he brought up the Wall Street Journal as an example. The problem? Murdoch doesn’t seem to know how the Journal actually handles Google.
For instance, I just found two WSJ stories through Google and was able to read each of them in different browsers. Clicking a second story from the article page brought up a promo about how I could see more of the Journal free online — if I register — but I could still read the story. Third story — I was blocked. (I’m a subscriber but logged out to test this.) The Journal isn’t invisible — but much of it can be impenetrable after a certain point.
Here’s how Murdoch replied when Speers asked why he hasn’t blocked sites from being seen by search engines: “I think we will. But that’s when we start charging. We do it already with the Wall Street Journal. We have a wall, but it’s not right to the ceiling. You can get the first paragraph of any story but if you’re not a paying subscriber, you get a paragraph and a subscription form.” He also raised the idea of challenging the doctrine of “fair use” in court, then reigned it in a bit. “We’re getting a lot of advertising revenue so we’ll take that slowly.” The conversation about pay walls starts near the top of the video.
Soon after that Murdoch talks about how newspapers may evolve: “Everyone can afford a newspaper. They’re the cheapest things in the world and what you get out of it is fabulous. And it will be even cheaper when you get it electronically.”