The pay-to-play debate for online media content heated up a bit with the announcement by News Corp. that Rupert Murdoch was reading to pull the plug on Google’s access to its online content . Jonathan Miller, the chief digital officer of News Corp. told the Monaco Media Forum “We believe that the value of high quality content is not recognized online so something needs to happen.” That something, according to Miller, will not happen right away, but in “months or quarters.”
Murdoch has long made it known that he deserves compensation for the content he provides online, and is actively pursuing ways to generate revenue more directly than advertising. The Wall Street Journal, for example, requires paid subscription for full access (although there are ways around this). However, the online market hasn’t been kind to those who put up such barriers. Apparently Murdoch believes that a leader is needed to make the first bold move, after which others will follow. “We will lead. There is a pent up need for this,” said Miller. There is also a pent up need for News Corp. to get its hands on a bit of the advertising revenue Google’s search engines generate, and which News Corp doesn’t share in.
Miller was dismissive of Google’s importance, at least for the News Corp.: “The traffic which comes in from Google brings a consumer who more often than not read one article and then leaves the site. That is the least valuable of traffic to us… the economic impact is not as great as you might think. You can survive without it.”
Google’s response was as expected: “Publishers put their content on the web because they want it to be found, so very few choose not to include their material in Google News and web search. But if they tell us not to include it, we don't.”
Whether News Corp can survive without Google is a question only pulling the plug will answer. It remains to be seen if News Corp. will follow through on their threat.
Image Credit: World Economic Forum/Wikipedia Commons