Media’s most powerful individual, Rupert Murdoch, has told the influential National Press Club (NPC), in Washington US, he will stop search engines making his content accessible for free.
The News Corp chairman and CEO, who’s main paid content vehicle in this region is the Wall Street Journal Asia, declared war on search engines like Google and Microsoft for aggregating news content and making it free to readers online.
Speaking during an interview last night (US time) with Martin Kalb, for The Kalb Report, Murdoch hinted at a tougher stance on aggregators of content, as he pushes forward with his paid content plan for online.
“We are going to stop people like Google or Microsoft or whoever from taking our stories for nothing,” Murdoch, in his sweeping interview on the future of media, said.
“We can (stop them), by the law of copyright… and they recognise it,” he added hinting News might be about to step up its legal defense of its content.
Hitting out at the search advertising model he said:
“They have this very clever business model they have invented… with tens of millions of words with textual advertising, it has produced a river of gold but these words are taken from the newspapers. I think they ought to stop it.”
Murdoch suggested an acceptable level of aggregation might be to offer a headline and one or two lines, before a reader was directed to the site and requested to subscribe, which he said would help drive traffic to the original news sites.
Kalb quizzed Murdoch on research done in the US which suggested only 14% of readers would pay for content.
“If they have no where else to go for content they’ll pay,” Murdoch said.
Murdoch also showed little nostalgia for print newspapers in the interview saying that people could already buy the complete online edition of the WSJ for $US3.99 per week which he said was a lot less than the newspaper.
He said if this is the way it went it would be OK for the business.
“No paper involved, no print, no trucks,” but on a personal note added, “I am old I like the tactile experience of the newspaper.”
Indicating the business had to be realistic about the future of readership, Murdoch said it was difficult to find many people under the age of 30 who buy newspapers.
However during the interview Murdoch praised the newly launched Apple iPad and said he felt it could contribute to the salvation of the newspaper business as he showed off the WSJ app for the iPad.
“We hope to expand our circulation with this. If there is a transition to this we have to manage it carefully,” he said.
When asked if he thought this was the end of tactile newspapers, Murdoch answered, “I just don’t know”.
“It maybe the saving of newspapers,” he said, “it’s better than them going out of business altogether.”