Google Under Threat From Rupert Murdoch

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I have personal experience. Once when standing in as editor of The Bulletin I found something like an Abrams tank loomed over my desk. As I scrambled to my feet, Kerry Packer said: “What are we doing on [such-and-such].” I mumbled a reply and Kerry cut across me: “I can tell you I don’t like it,” he said ­ bursting out of the room as powerfully as he had entered it.

Guess what? Next week’s Bulletin didn’t like it either. (Actually, I agreed with him, once my attention had been forcibly directed.)

Last week Rupert set the newsrooms buzzing when he said the public eventually will have to pay for online news. Yesterday, The Australian opined the same way.

It picked up a Macquarie Equities report where media analyst Alex Pollak said Google’s decision to sell ads on its Google News site in March triggered a new wave of anger from publishers, “who are also aware Google paid US$125 million to settle a copyright dispute with authors”.

Pollak also wrote that since 2006, Associated Press has been quietly receiving small payments for its news content from Google ­ and now wants a larger slice of the action.”

He noted a comment by Wall Street Journal editor Robert Thomson ­ a Murdoch import: “Google is the tapeworm in the intestines of the Internet. It seeks to turn qualitative journalism into a purely quantitative product.”

Back home, Frost & Sullivan has taken an analytic look at “monetising” of online news. The consultancy believes some form of payment is inevitable but basically the public just doesn’t want to pay for news. ­ John Stackhouse

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