Technology

Murdoch Demands Pay for Content


(Bloomberg) — News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch said online news aggregators must pay to distribute his company's newspaper articles.

"There are those who think they have a right to take our news content and use it for their own purpose without contributing a penny to its production," Murdoch said today in Washington at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's workshop on journalism in the Internet age. "Content creators bear all the costs, while aggregators enjoy many of the benefits. In the long term, this is untenable."

News Corp. is considering blocking Google Inc. from displaying its news articles and is talking to Microsoft Corp. about listing only on its site, people familiar with the matter said last week. Murdoch said last month he may stop Google from scanning and indexing stories from his newspapers, which include the Wall Street Journal and Times of London.

News Corp. is open to different pay models that ensure its publications "get a fair but modest price" for the value provided to aggregators, Murdoch said. The company also has plans to charge consumers for access to its newspapers' Web sites, as it does with the Wall Street Journal.

Murdoch declined to answer questions after delivering his prepared remarks.

E.W. Scripps Co., publisher of the Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tennessee, is also considering methods for recouping from some aggregators the cost of producing its content, said Mark Contreras, the senior vice president for newspapers. He didn't give details.

'It's Theft'

Some people post stories from News Corp.'s newspapers without permission or rewrite the information, said Murdoch, 78.

"It's not fair use," he said. "To be impolite, it's theft."

By blocking Google or other news aggregators, "you stand to lose a large part of your traffic overnight," said Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post news and opinion site.

Publishers can allow Google's search crawler to index content that is behind pay walls, letting users click through to a subscription article without cost.

Now, publishers can also limit to five a day the number of their paying articles a user can access for free through Google's search and news services, the Mountain View, California-based Internet company said today on its blog.

Financial Health

FTC Chairman Jonathan Leibowitz said the commission called today's gathering in response to a decline in the financial health of newspapers that has resulted in thousands of journalists losing their jobs and some publications shutting down.

Murdoch warned against the "heavy hand" of federal intervention, saying newspapers could be harmed by over- regulation or efforts to subsidize the industry.

The workshop is the first in a series on the future of the news business planned by the FTC. Other workshops will consider whether journalism would benefit from changes to tax, antitrust and copyright laws.

News Corp., based in New York, rose 34 cents, or 3 percent, to $11.80 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have gained 30 percent this year before today. Cincinnati-based E.W. Scripps increased 6 cents to $6.36 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sarah Rabil in New York at srabil@bloomberg.net; Greg Bensinger in Washington at gbensinger1@bloomberg.net

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