Is Murdoch really plannng a Google free future?

Rupert Murdoch has taken time out to tell Sky News Australia why he might ban his content from Google and why he’d rather have fewer visitors coming to his (paid for) websites (not to mention a quick bash at the thieving BBC).

In an interview with Sky News Australia News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch has been explaining why (but not how) people will be paying to read The Times and his other newspapers in the future.

He also said that News Corp might remove its content from Google searches. The implications of that are quite serious and far reaching and I really can’t see it happening. Even for paid content isn’t Google a marketing opportunity that showcases content?

Anyway, Murdoch raised an interesting point about the role of Google and other aggregators. Asked if it wasn’t a two way street when Google sends traffic to a News Corp websites Murdoch disagreed arguing that the value of someone coming from Google was not the same as a loyal reader.

“No[ it’s not a two way street with Google sending traffic] What’s the point of someone coming occasionally who likes a headline they see on Google? Sure we go out and say we have so many millions of visitors. The fact is that there is not enough advertising in the world to go around to make all the websites profitable. We’d rather have fewer people coming to our websites but paying. They don’t suddenly become loyal readers of our websites.”

Two things: loyal readers might come via Google on occasion and secondly how do you become a loyal reader in the digital age?

Murdoch earlier in the interview said that it was difficult to get people under 30 to buy newspapers. If that’s true and these readers surf pages on Google instead of thumb pages then how do you win them over and make them pay? Where do you get these loyal readers from? And as I said earlier doesn’t search have a role to pay in that process?

I think it does. Granted many people clicking on a news headline might only be after that single story and that alone, but others might be after more. Or more of the same.

He went on in the interview to raise, but not answer one of the biggest hurdles that News Corp and others face in the introduction of paid content. If you can’t get people under 30 to read newspapers (although clearly that is not entirely true) then how do you get them to pay online and become loyal readers?

He also again failed to mention any specific system of paid content that News Corp was looking at although he did dismiss the freemium model and said that like the Wall Street Journal (although do you think he’ll get some to finally fix that glitch where you put a headline in quotes into Google and get to read the story for free?) everything was likely to go behind a pay wall.

He also took time to accuse the BBC and its Australian counter part ABC (which described Murdoch’s paid content plan as the “classic play of an empire in decline) of stealing his content.

“We’re better and any rate if you look at their stuff (the BBC and the ABC) most of their stuff is stolen from the newspapers now and we’ll be suing them for copyright and they’ll have to spend a lot more money on reporters covering the world.”

As if The Times or the Sun never picked up on a BBC story.


  • Jack Wallington

    I agree, I just can’t see search engines not playing a role in the future when such massive audiences use them (i.e. everyone!) Surely by having a paid-for-content wall or subscription service is all that’s needed to prove loyalty e.g. charging per month / quarterly will ensure loyalty without the need to retract content from Google and Bing.

    Murdoch is right that search engines lend themselves to “pick and choose” making loyalty harder to establish, but total retraction from search engines doesn’t make sense to me yet. Look forward to seeing how this all pans out.

  • Gordon Macmillan

    I’m pretty sure he was just shooting off. His dislike of Google/BBC brings out the rant in Rupert Murdoch. Besides the WSJ is paid and is still on Google and other search engines. I don’t see how it loses (other than the huge loop hole in its pay wall that lets anyone in for free).


    I can happily live without his type of journalism, but my life would be far poorer without the BBC.