Monday 27 February 2017

Murdoch: publishers must stand up to Google

Sarah Rabil

Rupert Murdoch plans to charge a fee for access to online content. Photo: Bloomberg News
Rupert Murdoch plans to charge a fee for access to online content. Photo: Bloomberg News

Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive officer of News Corp, said newspaper publishers should prevent search engines like Google and Microsoft’s Bing from displaying full articles for free.

“It’s produced a river of gold, but those words are being taken mostly from the newspapers,” Murdoch, 79, said yesterday at a taping of “The Kalb Report” at the National Press Club in Washington.

“I think they ought to stop it, that the newspapers ought to stand up and let them do their own reporting.”

Murdoch, who publishes the Wall Street Journal and Times of London, said news aggregators should be able to display only a headline, a couple of sentences and the option to subscribe to the publication.

News Corp, based in New York, has started charging consumers for access to some of its newspapers’ websites, emulating the subscription model of the Wall Street Journal online.

To make their businesses work, publications, including New York Times Co’s flagship newspaper, have to put up pay walls on the Internet to charge readers for access to content, Murdoch said.

“Most newspapers in this country are going to have to put a pay wall up,” he said. It’s unclear how high the wall needs to be, he said.

News aggregators

Murdoch said the New York Times doesn’t seem to be able to make up its mind about how to implement its planned pay wall, which is supposed to start next year.

He said it will likely face opposition from the newspaper’s columnists, who prefer the wider audience they get when their columns are free. Robert Christie, a spokesman for New York Times, declined to comment.

Murdoch said he has two computer screens in his office that display wsj.com and nytimes.com all day so he can compare the news on the sites.

Murdoch has been saying that online news aggregators, like Google, must pay to distribute articles from his company’s newspapers.

News Corp is considering blocking Google from displaying its articles and has talked to Bing about exclusively listing on that site, people familiar with the matter said in November.

Publishers can allow Google’s search crawler to index content that is behind pay walls, letting users click through to a subscription article without cost.

Google has said publishers can limit to five a day the number of articles a reader can access for free through its search and news services.

News Corp fell 9 cents to $14.70 yesterday in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have gained 7.4pc this year.

Bloomberg

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