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Murdochs Plan to Charge for Content Won't Work

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by Ben Cohen

Roy Greenslade rips up Murdoch's attempt to wall off content with a compelling argument: There is simply too much free content elsewhere to choose from:

He may persuade all the leading newspapers and publishing companies - from the New York Times and the Washington Post, for example, to the sites owned by Gannett (such as USA Today) and Tribune - to erect paywalls at the same time.

Would that work? Well, there are still the TV news sites, such as ABC News
(which managed to attract 16.3m uniques in July, edging it into the top
five US news destinations). So he would need to persuade them too.

Then there is the Associated Press to think about. It is owned by the major publishers, but would have to cease its current deal with Google.

To a certain extent, I'm with Murdoch. I recognize the need for people to get paid for their content (after all, I'm one of them). I just don't think flying in the face of the internet spirit is the way to do it.

Publishers need to figure out a way to monetize their content effectively, work collaboratively to do so, and stop coming up with ways to narrow their audience. Making it exclusive may make them money in the short term, but if their audiences drop significantly, it cannot be sustainable. If you had to pay a premium to watch Anderson Cooper, would you pay it? Most probably not. He's not that good. And neither are Murdoch's papers.