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James Murdoch: Rivals Will Follow Times Down Paid Route

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A few weeks before the UK’s Times and Sunday Times become News Corp.’s first big consumer titles to go paid online, News Corp (NYSE: NWS) EMEA CEO James Murdoch is under no illusions it’s a contrary – and entirely necessary – step to take…

“I’ve had to get our team comfortable,” Murdoch told paidContent:UK Thursday evening. “On day one, there’ll be less customers – and you build up and you go out and make the argument. It’s going to take time, but it’s an imporant step to take.

“I’m not suggesting this goes in a straight line – but if we don’t (do it), it could be much worse.

“I see a lot of the rest of the industry basically really ceding any notion of leadership – from an intellectual point of view, a business point of view – about what are we going to do out here.

“You look at the job losses; how big are our newsrooms? I really believe that others will follow. it’s been a real lesson looking at how others react.”

Earlier Thursday evening, Murdoch had delivered a lecture to University College London that rarely touched on the paid news strategy specifically but which cast the move as a small part in a grand and urgent need to hold on to notions that intellectual property creators deserve fair recompense and protection in digital realms.

Many agree with this notion, but Murdoch, in his lecture, did address a lingering scepticism that the genie can go back in its bottle…

“Do not be misled by claims of high principle in this debate. When someone tells you ‘content wants to be free’, what you should hear is

6 Responses to “James Murdoch: Rivals Will Follow Times Down Paid Route”

  1. Cover price is not inconsequential at all. I worked for 15 years in magazines, and cover price was around 40-50% of total revenue. With margins of between 10-20%, cover price is the difference between modest profit and heavy loss. Online advertising revenues are much lower because there is far more available inventory, and most of it is commoditised, so it carries a very low yield per page. Mainstream internet is now about 12 years old and ad-only revenue busines models have consistently failed.

  2. @AlisonW

    ‘Murdoch …“On day one, there’ll be less customers”‘

    When even the boss cannot get the grammar of that sentence correct is it any wonder that newscorp is in this mess?

    “fewer”, dear boy.

  3. JamesBourner

    Thanks Robert, working for an online media owner this is as I assumed.

    I could certtainly understand a desire to turn off printing presses if a suitable revenue can be had from online – In my view that’s innocent enough (from a commercial aspect). The conspiracy theorist in me is also curious about the support Murdoch lends to the Conservatives. How much of a thorn in his side the Beeb and (as mentioned above) Wikimedia are. And the relationship between all of them (plus anything I don’t know about yet). It’s a very interesting situation.

  4. JamesBourner

    I remember my business studies teacher telling us that the cover price on mainstream print media is totally inconsequential to the profitability of the publication. If there’s any truth in that why is there such the hoo-hah about online payments? Is it because…

    Online ad revenue is much lower?
    My teacher was talking rubbish?
    Murdoch feels intimidated and wants to control online?
    Murdoch thinks there is a strong revenue stream to be had here without the variable costs of print?

    I’m curious and haven’t been able to form a conclusive opinion from what I’ve read so far. Does anyone have any insight?