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Murdoch’s Plan For Paywall Success: Readers Will Pay ‘When They’ve Got Nowhere Else To Go’

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This Sunday Google (NSDQ: GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt will address the American Society of News Editors at their conference in Washington D.C. — and, par for the course, it’s on the heels of a Rupert Murdoch appearance at the National Press Club with Google among the topics. At a lengthy taping of The Kalb Report moderated by Marvin Kalb, Murdoch warbled his usual “stop Google” refrain but added some touches: “I don’t think we’ll charge them; they just will say no. We’d be very happy if they just publish our headline and maybe a sentence or two — followed by a subscription form for the Journal.” Yes, that last bit of wishful thinking came with a laugh. (The video is here; we’ll embed a version if possible.)

Murdoch also would like other publishers to insist Google and other aggregators pay to use their work or do their own reporting. “They ought to stop it, the newspapers ought to stand up and let them do their own reporting.”

News Corp.’s Times announced its paywall details last week. Murdoch continued the sales pitch he and other News Corp (NYSE: NWS). execs have making since publicizing plans to charge for online access. When Kalb asked him (about 34 minutes in) how he would overcome public attitudes against paying for most online news, Murdoch replied: “I think when they’ve got nowhere else to go they’ll start paying and if it’s reasonable — no one’s going to ask for a lot of money.” And he wonders why so many people think the Times paywall is doomed to failure; his own words suggest that any publisher who tries to charge for general news will fail unless all publishers join in.

(This is probably where I should point out that this site is owned by Guardian News & Media, which has unambiguously dismissed paywalls as an option for The Guardian and The Observer. Guardian Editor-in-Chief Alan Rusbridger will be speaking about that decision at ASNE on Monday.)

Murdoch added: “We’re now selling an electronic version of the whole Journal for $3.99 a week, a lot cheaper than buying it on a newsstand.” Then he talked about how hard it is to find a person under 30 who will buy a newspaper — but didn’t explain why that would change online.

A couple of other moments to check in on:

— If you forward to 33 minutes or so, you can hear Murdoch explain Google’s invention of search advertising and how it has produced a river of gold.

— Murdoch’s take on the New York Times and the Journal‘s metro rivalry starts at about 38 minutes.

6 Responses to “Murdoch’s Plan For Paywall Success: Readers Will Pay ‘When They’ve Got Nowhere Else To Go’”

  1. “People will pay when they have no other place to go” That is true, but the problem for Murdock is we will always have other places to go.

  2. Winter Plimsol

    “I read no newspaper now but Ritchie’s, and in that chiefly the advertisements, for they contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.”
    Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Nathaniel Macon, January 12, 1819

    Go ahead, you useless old fossil. You sound like someone complaining that Henry Ford’s device won’t upstage your carriages. Times change, and you can’t hold back progress. I don’t read mainstream media anyway, it’s all either lying left or right propaganda, not news!

  3. I get the WSJ for free – it was a few thousand airline miles – way less than $4/week for online access. I’ve seen the pay wall a few times, and go and read the news elsewhere.

    Murdoch’s previous rants about google are just hilarious. If he really wants nothing to do with them, he can just block them.. its not that difficult.

  4. Where Murdoch’s “news” products are concerned, there will ALWAYS be somewhere else to go. “Nowhere at all” is a vast improvement, for example

  5. Anonymous

    News Corp. does not own the New York Times, in fact, Murdoch despises the Times and views the WSJ as a viable competitor to the paper, unlike the NY Post and other tabloids that are less respected for journalism than for sensationalism