Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Murdoch opens a second front

They’re either very worried at News International or very brazen. James Murdoch’s Media Guardian lecture in Edinburgh which received blanket coverage over the weekend is a second front in the attack on ‘free news’ which his father started last month. It can be found HERE

His usual targets list will come as no surprise to anybody, namely OFCOM and, of course, the BBC who are now accused of ‘dumping’ free journalism onto the market. It feels to me like an attempt to corral the rest of the media industry into supporting the News International payment for content policy which his Dad recently announced. Of course, this can only work if he gets everyone else on side and there is no ‘free news’ for anyone to access – hence the attack on the Beeb. Apparently, similar moves by the major news organisations in the States to produce an industry standard payment policy are also underway, albeit in their early stages.

Couple of points. Firstly, is the idea of different media organisations banding together to invoke a payment-only system anti-competitive? I’d be interested to know what OFCOM think.

Secondly, what do they intend to do about websites such as The Huffington Post which is way out in front of most traditional media outlets in its coverage of American politics, but has virtually no journalistic overhead and a low cost base? (Apparently the journalists all write for free in return for generating their own journalistic ‘brand’ and readership following which then buys their inevitable books).

Overall, I think Murdoch makes some good points, but I can’t help feeling that the big winner if he gets his way will be guess who? That’s right, News International.


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