Rupert Murdoch announced plans yesterday to charge for online access to all of News Corp's media properties. Coincidentally, the company posted a $203 million loss for its fourth quarter, down from a profit of $1.1 billion from the same period last year.
Citing high "impairment and operating charges" the company incurred through its ownership of MySpace, News Corp. shareholders lost 8 cents per share and the company lost 11% of its total revenue in their fourth quarter. So it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that Murdoch would announce plans to end free access to all of his company's online offerings on the same day.
Reports the Financial Times:
Rupert Murdoch has vowed to charge for all the online content of his newspapers and television news channels, going well beyond his prediction in May that the company would test pay models on one of its stronger papers within the year.
"We intend to charge for all our news websites," Mr Murdoch said.
"If we're successful, we'll be followed by all media," he added, predicting "significant revenues" from charging for differentiated news online.
He warned that "the big competition will be coming from the BBC," which offers online news for free, but said: "Our policy is to win."
Murdoch's move, if he holds fast to his plans, could play a substantial role in the future of content availability on the internet. While charging for online access to the Wall Street Journal has been mildly successful due to the willingness of the paper's affluent readership to pony up, it'll be interesting to see if the same holds true for New Corp.'s other, less "classy" properties. If his move to force people to pay for access to Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, the News of the World, the New York Post, etc. is successful, expect many others to follow suit, something sure to please David Simon. However, this idea sure as shit seems to have fail written all over it.