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Rupert Murdoch appeared at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference yesterday (uh, WTF, Goldman Sachs, was Communapalooza taken?) and strongly hinted that he was going to take the Wall Street Journal's website free. He also outlined the ways in which News Corp. would use the paper to bolster its new Fox Business Channel.

("While an existing deal obligates WSJ reporters to appear on CNBC, Murdoch — who's slated to take over WSJ parent Dow Jones later this year — stressed that the pact was only for financial news. 'There's no reason why we can't have them talk about politics, national affairs, international affairs, lifestyle, travel," he added.'")

While some Journal bigwigs object to providing an all-free site, the fact that the WSJ is the "only major U.S. paper charging for online access to most of its content" should be a pretty good indication of how the new model works. Online advertising should offset the subscription losses.

A correspondent tells Mickey Kaus that Murdoch "will start a national ad rate war with the wsj offering steep discounts (a la the nyp in nyc). Murdoch wants to bring the NYT to its knees." Mickey suggests that the Times should be very, very afraid, but we're not so sure: Isn't this the equivalent of starting a two-front war?

The Post is already taking a bath to keep even with the News: Does Murdoch really have enough money in the bank to have the Journal (particularly one that can no longer rely on online subscription revenues) give away its print ads at a steep discount? Oh, wait, he does? Okay, maybe Sulzberger and Company should be afraid.