Murdoch and Google and Microsoft and the FTC and….

The biggest news in news this week, came from, surprise surprise, Rupert Murdoch.  You may recall that in our last installment, the head of News Corp said that he would “de-index” all of its web sites from Google, which has of course single-handedly brought down the newspaper industry.  This wouldn’t hurt Google as much as it would hurt Murdoch, but anyway… Needless to say, this was not a story that came out and then sank like a stone – there have been one or two ramifications.  First of all, Google itself stepped back a bit and offered a conciliatory nod to publishers. Early this week, Google announced a new program that would allow opting-in publishers to get five free clicks a day on anything found through Google News (which was previously a back-door to avoid paying for view). After they’ve used up those free clicks, readers will be presented with a screen that invites them to pay up if they want to keep reading. “In reality,” says TechCrunch “ it will do little to change the economics of the online news industry or the behavior of online news readers. Very few people call up a search of every article from the Wall Street Journal on a given day and click back and forth between Google News and the to read the entire paper for free.”

Murdoch spent much of the week in front of the FTC, where he denounced aggregators as thieves, and amazingly enough,  said that media companies need to construct pay walls.  Yawn. He was not too busy whining to the government, however, to start discussions with Microsoft which, the idea goes would pay him for exclusive access to News Corp content, once it is de-indexed from Google. This is kind of a ridiculous idea, if it ever gets past the talking stage.  For one thing, Microsoft’s Bing currently has about 10% of search market share as opposed to Google, which has about 70% (numbers from comScore).  How would this bring enough value to News Corp to offset what it would lose by being de-indexed?  Yeah, it would prove a point but… Secondly, if a search for a news item does not bring up a News Corp article, searchers would be perfectly happy to find the story elsewhere. The presence of News Corp will not bring searchers to Bing. And, as NPR points out, “ what does “exclusivity” mean when content from one Web site can be infinitely reposted and disseminated throughout the Internet? Would this even be a viable business model?”



One Response to “Murdoch and Google and Microsoft and the FTC and….”

  1. andrevanloon Says:

    Interesting post. I would say, though, that your point re: “searchers would be perfectly happy to find the story elsewhere” may miss the point that, without adequate long-term funding, there will not be any stories. There may be rumours, half-truths and lots and lots of noise, but not properly verified stories.

    This is not just about Murdoch, who I am not really defending. What I am willing, no, eager to defend, is self-assertive, high-quality journalism. Murdoch is doing a good thing in speaking up about this, even though others will have to follow his lead.



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