Murdoch urges publishers to stop giving away 'commodity' of journalism

NEW YORK - Rupert Murdoch has told a meeting hosted by the US media regulator that journalism is an expensive commodity and is urging other news organisations to stop giving away content for free.

Murdoch is in the process of working out how News Corporation-owned media, such as The Times, The Sun and the New York Post, can start charging users for online content.

Critics have pointed out that a major flaw in the plan - readers are unlikely to pay for content that they can access for free elsewhere, and Murdoch is now tackling this by urging other publishers to get on board the paywall plan.

Murdoch made his comments at a two-day workshop run by US regulator the Federal Trade Commission, called 'How will journalism survive the internet age?'

He said: "We need to do a better job of persuading consumers that high-quality reliable news and information does not come for free… Good journalism is an expensive commodity."

Murdoch also rejected suggestions made at the workshop that tax breaks and changes to competition rules be introduced to help prop up failing newspaper publishers, saying that such policies acted not just as subsidies for failures but also penalised successful publishers.

As part of plans to stop readers accessing News Corp content for free, Murdoch has said it is likely that Google News will be blocked from adding headlines to its news aggregation search engine.

Google has just made a concession to the pressure from publishers by changing rules to limit the number of stories that users of the search engine can access for free on subscription sites.

Before Murdoch was banging the drum for journalism in New York, his lieutenant Les Hinton was making much the same point at the World Newspaper Congress in India. The chief executive of News Corp-owned Dow Jones told delegates that "free is too expensive" for the publishing industry, and urged others to recognise the value of their journalistic output.

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