Australian-born Murdoch began with one paper within his native country quickly rising through the ranks he began to dominate both the print media and television market (creating Sky in 1989) and this year Forbes were forced to continue recognising his importance – as the 132nd richest person in the world, it cannot be disputed that Mr Murdoch knows a thing or two about his media.
However, the recent criticism has addressed Murdoch’s supposed ‘venture’ to remove stories from Google and encourage the public to pay for content online. Arguably, certain case studies prove paid-for content does not work online – for the consumer or the entrepreneur looking to make a fast buck. A good example can be found back in September 2005, when the New York Times (with an all encompassing daily circulation of around 1.5million) announced a subscription-based service that would now be in place for daily columns known as TimesSelect. Costs were relatively low, but the service was hardly a success with bloggers working around the rule and re-posting the content online.
TimesSelect was discontinued in 2007 reflecting a growing view (that still very much exists and garners much support today) that subscription fees cannot outweigh the potential ad revenue from increased traffic to a free site – a view that Murdoch appears to be ignoring in favour of pioneering new techniques. According to a report in yesterday’s FT, Murdoch’s choices go beyond spitting his dummy out at common web beliefs and towards cosying up to Bill Gates and Microsoft’s newest search engine venture Bing (which, since its launch in June, has quickly been established as Google’s biggest competitor). According to the Guardian, it would seem that ‘Microsoft may be willing to do what Google, so far, has resisted: pay news organisations for the privilege of featuring their content on its site’.Perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to write off Murdoch and his old age; after all he is sitting on a 4 billion fortune – a testament to his success. And just as Murdoch’s alliance with Thatcher saw The Sun credit itself with helping John Major to win an unexpected election victory in the 1992 general election – the News Corporation could be first to succeed with paid-for online content, leaving Murdoch laughing all the way to the bank.