How long can the news industry go on making only minimal profits from its supposed digital white knight? A month after saying online readers’ dependence on free content is “going to have to change somehow“, News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch has now “set up a global team, based in New York, London, and Sydney, to create a system for charging for online content in an environment where consumers have come to expect to get it for free”, The Daily Beast reports.
There’s no on-the-record source but, Newsweek‘s former London bureau chief Stryker McGuire writes, a “knowledgeable source” says the team is “looking at hardware” to deliver pay-for content, suggesting e-readers may be it. And Murdoch is personally overseeing the effort, with help from Dow Jones (NYSE: NWS) CEO Les Hinton and son James, News’ EMEA head.
As evidenced by Murdoch’s refusal to take WSJ.com free, it is possible to charge for B2B and business news, but any effort to put Pandora back in her box by asking consumers to pay for general news may need to be undertaken together with industry partners – so the Beast says News’ new digital CEO Jonathan Miller is also speaking with “other content providers” about the project. Some digital payback can’t come soon enough