Thursday 6 August 2009

Murdoch: The Blogger's Best Friend?

I'm sure anyone with a decent political bone in their body will be cheered to hear Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation have posted a $3.4 billion loss. This is even more dramatic when you consider profits stood at $5.4bn just the year before. But this is unsurprising - as the recession continues to bite revenues were bound to be driven down as companies rein in their marketing departments. But there are other problems brewing for Murdoch too. For example, Freeview has long overtaken Sky in the UK, making the digital advertising market that much more competitive - a situation exacerbating the fall-out from Sky's long-term decline in viewing figures. And not forgetting the MySpace cash cow Murdoch acquired in 2005 is on the verge of becoming an albatross around News Corporation's neck.

But what is especially interesting is Murdoch's favoured method of securing new revenue streams. He thinks charging for online content is a good idea. According to yesterday's Financial Times, Murdoch wants to introduce payments for access to all the online content of his newspapers and television channels by this time next year. This will first be piloted on one or more of the stronger titles.

I don't know about you, but I'm tickled pink Murdoch is embarking on an obviously self-destructive course. If you read The Times online, why bother forking out for coverage when The Telegraph can supply conservative comment and analysis at zero cost? If you like The Sun's celebrity commentary, Perez Hilton, Popbitch and Digital Spy do it so much better ... and for free. And what about opinion? The right wing blogosphere is replete with nasty little turds who'd love to fill Richard Littlejohn's and Jon Gaunt's shoes - and you won't have to part with your cash to read them either.

Murdoch is not only confident the introduction of pay for content will work; he believes other news and media organisations will follow suit. Supposing this is the case and the move proves not to be a disaster, it will still mean millions of web users will be looking for free comment and opinion to fill the gap vacated by the mainstream media. And into this breach could pour legions of bloggers. There is a chance Murdoch's lasting legacy could be one of those ironic twists history likes to pull from time to time. Murdoch - the man who has done as much as successive Tory and Labour governments to promote authoritarian politics and the unquestioned tyranny of capital might, despite himself, be responsible for stimulating a flourishing of hitherto marginalised and ignored voices. It is just possible Murdoch's actions could be the spur for a golden age of blogging.


Pete Shield said...

Many old fashioned media houses have failed to play the online market well, the 'new economics' that heralded in the first internet crash, have basically had a re-run with social media.
The one thing you can say about so called Web 2.0 is that it has the same Field of Dreams economics about it, the 'build it and they (advertisers/revnue) will come' approach as Web 1.0 but with even less of a clear to market plan.

From a bloggers perspective as you rightly point out this is not necessarily bad news, we can benefit from some of the technological advantages, and some of the revenue advantages- Search engine optimisation, OpenX market and free adserver, Google Ads, Affiliate schemes, on built on the back of opensource software, and farcopyleft IP. While hopefully providing a wider source of indepth knowledge.

It would be useful however to maybe look at trying to put a Left wing Huffingdon Post together of all the very many good quality bloggers outthere. To move beyond the Socialist Unity idea on a article then a punch up- not having a go Andy and co you are doing a great job under difficult condidtions. But rather than a forum based site a site that collects together all the red, red/green, peace, union, workers, international solidarity news feeds (via RSS/Atom) into one place, regardless of party membership/lack of party card. People can still go off and have a good olf fashioned row, but the emphasis then is on the news and analysis.

Just a thought

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

May he burn in hell that man and his media empire fall down around his ears.

D. Quail (expat) said...

Excellent post. This succinctly sums it up: pawalls are silly, and bloggers are going to do very well out of this.

If Rupes wants to drive The Sun and The NotW into the ground, fine by me!

Kensington said...

I will not pay for internet access to a paper. I would rather buy the paper version.

Anglonoel said...

Mind you, if you are daft enough to pay twice to read Jeremy Clarkson, Kelvin McKenzie, John Gaunt (and all the other interchangeable third rate Richard Littlejohn wannabes you find every day in The Stun), Irwin 'Alka Selzer' Stelzer et al you deserve to be ripped off by the passport-changing, tax-dodging, Red China-appeasing plutocrat.

Vengeance and Fashion said...

I agree, this is a disastrous move by Murdoch. He clearly knows little about the internet, as the MySpace disaster shows. People simply don't expect to pay for news and comment anymore, and rightly so, considering that once you sift the dross, the level of discussion to be found from bloggers can often surpass the boring orthodoxy of mainstream media hacks (Fisk, Pilger and Steel excepted).

Brigada Flores Magon said...

'Replete with nasty little turds'--a very palpable hit. The worrying thing is why so many people want to read them , on paper or in cyberspace.

Charlie Marks said...

Perhaps the old bastard isn't that crazy...

Robert Peston points out Murdoch's empire is claiming the BBC's free news website constitutes unfair competition. He'll be looking for the next Tory government to crush the Beeb to force us to buy his crappy online papers.

Even so, the ease with which information can be disseminated via the internet means that pricing is difficult. If twitter charges us - we'll go to twatter. If facebook charges us - we'll go to trashbat.cock

ModernityBlog said...

My bet is that many of these "losses" are engineered for the current climate and will allow tax write offs when there's an up swing in the economy.

Benjamin Solah said...

I'm pretty happy about all of this too. The Australian tycoon's photo sits in a vase in my loungeroom - with a pirate sword through it. I'm not a fan.

How do they actually think people will pay to read news when they can read it for free?

But the thing about blogging that is worrying is that agencies like AAP have started to copyright linking to their stories.

So bloggers often comment based on previously read mainstream journalism, link to it so their readers can follow but AAP are suing bloggers for linking to their freaking stories in an attempt to stifle bloggers.

I wouldn't rule out other measures imposed by the state on behalf of Murdoch and Co. that restrict bloggers and such so that mainstream media can survive.