Wednesday, November 11, 2009

All the money that's fit to print

Rupert Murdoch says he will remove stories from Google's search index as a way to encourage people to pay for content online.

In an interview with Sky News Australia, the mogul said that newspapers in his media empire – including the Sun, the Times and the Wall Street Journal – would consider blocking Google entirely once they had enacted plans to charge people for reading their stories on the web.
You can't help thinking that Rupe just doesn't get Internet. This is the man who bought Myspace at the point when all the cool kids were defecting to Facebook, tired as they were of all the glitter and the trash who posted it. Now he believes he can charge for his online content, seemingly unaware that people don't pay for stuff on Internet. It is bad enough that people have to go to work and waste hours sitting in front of computers; it would be worse if they had to pay for all those downloads.

Remember what happened when Lily Allen said it was a bit unfair that people should get music for nothing. The crowd went wild. "Who is this woman" they demanded indignantly, "to want payment for the music she produces?" Internet people believe there is an endless supply of free music and movies, and that the content providers will go on providing content, for nothing.

Besides, who would pay to read a Murdoch paper? The Times or the WSJ perhaps, but who would pay to read the Sun or the Australian? The trouble with Murdoch papers is that most of the news stories they run are not true: people may well read them because they are entertaining, but nobody will pay to be told lies. That's why Fox News is free.

And what's with the grudge against Google? The notion that his papers' stories are being stolen by Google is tinfoil hat territory. Google does not steal news; Google steals books.

1 comment:

Peter in Dundee said...

To be fair to Google I think that in their zeal to both spend the vast amounts of money that roll in and do it in a wonderful, helpful way (I LOVE Google Earth to bits for eg) they get carried away with the wonderfulness of their mission and don't stop often enough to think about how it might look from outside. This is a failure of attention by the grown ups at the company.

In Google's defence they are have been happy to sit down with people, and engage with the government over the concerns.

Rupert just sues people, and buys political parties.

The big worry with all this is that we may lose Aunty online. The elephant in the room of paying for news here in the UK is is free. You don't even have to prove you paid your license fee. So Rupert has to kill it. Accordingly the Tories have promised a review of the license fee, the sweetener is that they might dole a chunk of it out to other broadcasters for 'public service broadcasting'. What will Aunty cut from her budget?

This is what Rupert does, he changes something then insists that this is the new market reality and that everyone else should follow suite. And governments roll over and let him.