Murdoch to charge for online content

Haven’t we had this debate already? And haven’t we found that it doesn’t work?

But it appears the great man of media thinks otherwise. The Financial Times is reporting that Murdoch could charge for online content for the UK’s Times and Sun this year. While the general consensus seems to have been that charging for content just doesn’t work, when the great media mogul says something about viable business models the media world will listen. But let’s just recap why charging for online news hasn’t and I don’t believe will work:

  • If they won’t pay for Facebook (which they spend endless hours on and have already invested in creating networks?) why would they pay for political reporting?
  • Subscriptions have been abandoned by The New York Times and others because the costs associated with micropayments are too high.
  • If your selling content you can bet that it will be available free somewhere else on the net.
  • Media has never been in the business of selling content. The media’s product is its readership which it sell to advertisers.

What is troubling though is that if Murdoch goes ahead with his plans to charge for content it could have a great impact on the Australian media landscape. Given the concentration of his media ownership it could mean a large majority of online Australian content is only available via subscription.

What do you think? Can it work? What will it mean for Australia?

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