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The Times Erects a Paywall, Plays Double Or Quits

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the testing-what-the-market-will-bear dept.

The Almighty Buck 344

DCFC writes "News International, owners of The Times and The Sunday Times announced today that from June readers will be required to pay £1 per day or £2 per week to access content. Rupert Murdoch is delivering on his threat to make readers pay, and is trying out this experiment with the most important titles in his portfolio. No one knows if this will work — there is no consensus on whether it is a good or bad thing for the industry, but be very clear that if it succeeds every one of his competitors will follow. Murdoch has the luxury of a deep and wide business, so he can push this harder than any company that has to rely upon one or two titles for revenue."

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344 comments

£1 per day to access online news? (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31637958)

Methinks this will end in tears.

Re:£1 per day to access online news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31638026)

Particularly if the other media outlets 'trial' the service at different (non-overlapping) times.

Opensource the news ? (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638164)

Since news are going proprietory why don't we start an open-source alternative?

Re:Opensource the news ? (5, Informative)

linzeal (197905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638208)

You mean like Wikinews, which already exists or something different like Indymedia or the whole blogosphere?

Re:Opensource the news ? (1)

quantumpineal (1724214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638236)

All news is kind of semi open source right now. they will just lose money and attention with this move. maybe Murdoch is destined to get left behind like natural selection

8 pounds a month (5, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638212)

8 pounds a month, a lot less isn't it? But I think it is the 1 pound per day that people will indeed choke on.

I don't really read news sites myself, I read stories that I found links to. But I don't really go to a newspaper site and just read all the stories. So it would be NOT 1 pound per day, but 1 pound per article. So I just wouldn't.

And because I follow links to several sites, it is also not 1 buck per day, but maybe 20 bucks for all the different sites. And that does hurt, even if you take a monthly subscription.

That is the biggest reason I think this will fail.

People use the net different then a newspaper. When you take a newspaper subscription, you read it like a book. But when you browse the net, you go here you go there. Take in a page here, an article there. The problem isn't paying 1 subscription fee, it is paying dozens.

Lets see, 1 euro for slashdot, 1 for tweakers, 1 for comics.com, 1 for penny-arcade, 1 for the bbc, 1 for the times, 1 for the new york times, etc etc. That is going to hurt pretty fast.

True micro-payments would help, but the amounts would have to be truly tiny. As in a tenth of a cent for an article and that is never going to work.

And anyway, I don't have a credit card and the only Americans who have ever heard of Global Collect are Sony (SOE is the only MMO company in the world to support iDeal (dutch banks) and other countries payment systems (this might have changed in recent years)). So how am I going to pay even if I wanted to. (Oh and for irony, supporting iDeal is cheaper per transaction then credit card payments).

Re:8 pounds a month (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638280)

I don't have a credit card

At least where I live (Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA), banks and credit unions offer VISA or MasterCard debit cards to their checking account customers at no additional charge.

Re:8 pounds a month (2, Insightful)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638386)

at no additional charge.

unless you use them

Re:8 pounds a month (1)

dhalgren (34798) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638396)

Any thoughts on why your economy crashed?

Re:8 pounds a month (4, Insightful)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638324)

It isn't so much the amount involved, which is the same as buying the dead tree version, it is the fact that it is quicker to find another newspaper on the internet than it is to find your credit card and type all the details in, whereas in a newsagent, it is pretty easy to find a pound coin in your pocket and hand it over.

Re:8 pounds a month (1)

sodul (833177) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638376)

the only Americans who have ever heard of Global Collect are Sony

FYI Sony [wikipedia.org] is Japanese.

From 'anchor of civilization' to wacko webpage (4, Insightful)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638246)

Charging a pound a day to read news is ill-advised. It will transform this man's newspaper from being the anchor media of the community to being just another website for the rich and their wack-job worshipers.

Newspapers a hundred-years ago were the voice and rallying point of the many diverse communities in the USA and the voice of the middle class in Europe. There were many and each had strong and opposing editorial positions. After World War II the newspapers consolidated into a few major corporations and greatly softened their strident editorial positions. They started to become focused on local advertising, legal announcements, and providing a printed 'voice of record' for centralized government and corporate positions and viewpoints.

    In the 1980s multiple papers and editions in cities disappeared. Most major cities had only one daily and one 'alternative' weekly for young adults. At the millennium, the function of providing news and advertisements started being done by the web and newspapers began to be perceived as irrelevant. A large number of people born after WWII hated their local established daily because the ultra-conservative editorial board would always take the wrong position on every single issue, year after year. Other middle-of-the-road young people found little in the daily that was useful to their lives. One by one, they stopped buying the local paper as the years went by. Editions of major city papers, NY Times, Washington Post, started being published in minor cities.

    The wealthy loved the daily paper. They were deluded into believing that the conservative editorial positions were a manifestation of the political views of the people and not a paid reflection of their own perspectives. They poured millions into the dailys, year after year.

    Then a few years ago, a tipping point happened. The amount of money coming in didn't pay the costs of the dailys. The papers went 'thin', losing 50-70% of their daily newsprint and concentrated on food ads, kittens-stuck-in-trees human-interest stories, obituaries, and comics. The young get the functions of a daily paper from the web and cable TV. The old feel just lost and the middle class/aged just don't care as long as the SUV still runs.

    The global newspaper kings should make their news outlets and web sites free. The sources that they use to get the information are more interested in getting their positions out to the international public than they are interested in selling stories to newspapers. They will use focused web sites. Centralized 'journalism' will wither and just become a forgotten cultural characteristic of the 20th century. Murdock appears to be too old, too isolated, and too rich to understand this.

Re:£1 per day to access online news? (3, Interesting)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638294)

That's the same as the cover price for the physical printed edition. Which is ridiculous- who in their right mind could justify paying the same for online data as they pay for printed/shipped/delivered media?

Surely the costs being lower should mean the price is lower, right?

Re:£1 per day to access online news? (2, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638358)

I guess his advisors worked for the music industry before they got fired for giving bad advice. But hey, they were cheap!

It'll work GREAT! (2, Insightful)

gerf (532474) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638360)

Just look at how much better Salon.com did after their attempt. Remember them?

The market pays what a service is worth. (3, Insightful)

reporter (666905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638410)

The free market is brutally efficient. In this market, the price of a good or service is determined by what it is worth.

For example, the "Wall Street Journal" (WSJ) has excellent reporting and analysis. The WSJ is worth the price that its owners charge, so I willingly pay for a 1-year subscription to the WSJ.

Is "The Times" worth 1 pound per day? Only the market can say for sure.

An interesting but indirect conclusion of my observation is that if a newspaper is so rotten that only free content will attract readers, then the reporters and the editors of that rotten newspaper are being overpaid for the crappy work that they do.

I predict... (5, Insightful)

Mabbo (1337229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31637960)

"Sir, there's something wrong with our servers, or else the reporting service. Look here, at the pageviews count. It's stuck at zero."

Re:I predict... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31638422)

Could be Murdoch or could be you, if he succeeds.

When you pay for content on the internet it usually means you give up your real life identity. That combined with what you think (i.e. read) is an extremely valuable commodity.

It is also information that can be used against you should it come to that. It infringes on your right to privacy and to hold your own thoughts. It is why authorities shouldn't know what you check out of the library.

The internet offers tremendous cost savings over print. Murdoch is an extremely greedy man and too stupid to know how to successfully associate content with advertisement or advertisement with content. Or to successfully make the argument that ads should be paid for even if they aren't clicked on.

The identity driven information Murdoch could glean from you is even greater than anything Google ever imagined.

Oh yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31637964)

And so the downfall begins......

"And nothing of value was lost..." (5, Insightful)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31637970)

This is good. Two of Murdoch's outlets have deliberately isolated themselves from the wider discussion. I only wish he'd adopt this strategy more widely.

Re:"And nothing of value was lost..." (1)

ZDRuX (1010435) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638036)

I was just going to say the same thing but you beat me to it..

Personally I hope this plan fails and I'd wish his whole empire comes crumbling down like a deck of cards, along with all his friends, competitors, and everyone else in the "media" bussiness.. Yes, a bit far fetched, but I can dream :)

The Dream and The Reality (4, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638220)

A lot of very vocal voices on the Internet hate Murdoch, and that's fine. But the reality is, his newspapers and cable channels are wildly popular -- WILDLY popular, at least in the US. They typically trounce their competition by silly-wide margins. And my gut is that there is a large percentage of Murdoch's readership who can't stomach his competition any more than you can imagine yourself watching Foxnews, and that this percentage of folks will pay. He doesn't need everyone who's reading him now to pay, just -- what's the percentage being kicked around? -- 5% or such? He gets that, he makes money, and more importantly, he trumpets that "The Paywall is a resounding success!" (Using the largest megaphone in the land, I might add.) This all but forces his competition to follow suit (let's call them the Hipster Papers...), and you know that the hipsters aren't going to pay, because, well, you're one of them, you've got your reasons. The Death Spiral of The Hipster Papers accelerates.

Murdoch may be one Nehru Jacket shy of being a Bond Villain, but he has thought this out. It is entirely possible that in the pending media apocalypse that is online news distribution, he's the last man standing.

Re:The Dream and The Reality (0, Troll)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638254)

The Hipster Papers will survive by funding from Soros and Buffett, two men whose opinions on politics will start to mean something to me the moment they qualify 100% of their income as wages.

Re:"And nothing of value was lost..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31638404)

And pray tell, which day is the public flogging of the socialists at the town square?

I would hate to see such evil and despicable elements take part in society unpunished.

Good luck with that (2, Interesting)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#31637974)

Oh dear The Times doesn't read me read their content. Oh well I guess I'll have to console myself with the many hundreds of other sites that carry substantially identical content. For example if I want right wing rhetoric with my news I can always go to The Mail or Telegraph sites or any number of blogs.

so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (1)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 4 years ago | (#31637980)

A buck a week to read his garbage paper? Whatever... I'm happy that he's doing this and wish him the best of luck.

Re:so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31637990)

Uh, you're not much of a mathematician, are you?

Re:so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (2, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638070)

He couldn't have made it clear that he is an adult film producer. Also, mathematics and accounting are widely and wildly different, and it would take a state school system to confuse the two. Mathematics is the formal analysis of patterns; accounting is adding numbers up. While a mathematician would be able to improve the art of accountancy, he might never be a good accountant, just as the guy who builds the jet might make a poor pilot.

Your rule of thumb: if you have an operation which would be made easier with a numerical calculating machine, you are probably not doing mathematics.

Re:so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (1)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638412)

Ya.. My bad. Just went looking at the currency converter and realized how off I was. I was thinking that every british pound equaled 2/2.5 usd or worse.

Re:so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (4, Interesting)

Kong the Medium (232629) | more than 4 years ago | (#31637996)

Lets iterate this hypothesis a bit.

It's 350$ a year if you wish to pay avery day anew, but it's 104$ if you pay every week.

The next step I would implement, will be 50$ if you pay once per month, followed up with 35$ if you pay once per year.
So if you subscribe for a year you get a rebate of 90%. Suddenly this scheme does not look so bad at all.

Re:so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (4, Insightful)

DeadPixels (1391907) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638020)

Unless you consider all of the other sites out there that currently don't charge for their content.

Re:so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (2, Insightful)

Kong the Medium (232629) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638064)

Wrong argument.

First of all you are not part of the target audience. You won't pay, the sheep will.

Information must originate from somewhere and somebody has to pay for it.

Murdochs media imperium is big enough that it will not fall in 5 years. He can suffer from 2-3 years of lower income, his treasure chest holds enough cash. He will get ROI on this scheme and other media outlets will follow suit. ACTA and DMCA will of course help with this.
You may not be happy with this course of events, but unless you are Bill Gates and have enough cash to burn on providing the information and the opinions wanted by your target audience, what will you do, if all links to the information you need and want are behind this paywalls?

Re:so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (1)

DeadPixels (1391907) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638098)

First of all you are not part of the target audience. You won't pay, the sheep will.

Fair enough; I agree. However, the only people I see paying are people who exclusively read these papers online already and have no other source for news, which seems like a pretty small demographic.

Re:so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638190)

Murdochs media imperium is big enough that it will not fall in 5 years. He can suffer from 2-3 years of lower income,

"Lower income"? It's free now, so whatever income he gets is an increase. Maybe a decrease in income from web ads, but that is much less than what he might earn from subscribers.

Re:so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (2, Insightful)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638226)

First of all you are not part of the target audience. You won't pay, the sheep will.

Actually, probably not. The "sheep" as you put it will probably just move to a non-paywalled news outlet. Or go back to buying dead tree versions. It's a path-of-least-resistance thing.

Some people will pay, certainly. Some always do. But how many people have a pressing need to see what the Times has to say on a minute by minute basis? What does the Times offer that they can't get elsewhere, for free? People are going to stay away in droves.

Information must originate from somewhere and somebody has to pay for it.

Well, yes. But it doesn't originate in factories. It's not like Murdoch has armies of gnomes painstakingly hammering scrap iron into bits and bytes. The information just needs to be collected.

But even setting that aside, it's still far from clear that a paywall will prove a successful business model for financing the collection of information. It didn't work at all for the New York Times IIRC. In fact as far as I can see, the only papers that have ever made a paywall work are the financial papers, and they have hefty corporate subscribers, and offer data that isn't quite so widely available.

Murdochs media imperium is big enough that it will not fall in 5 years

True, but he's quite capable of stripping away what little relevance remains at the once-mighty Times. I mean Alexander Lebedev is most likely about to start distributing the print version of The Independent with a cover price of zero, and Murdoch's choosing this moment to engage in a course of action that is bound to drive away a large number of readers. There's no value in having a newspaper that no one reads.

People who want to RTFA before they comment (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638312)

But how many people have a pressing need to see what the Times has to say on a minute by minute basis?

People who follow a link from a news aggregator and want to make informed comments about the article on the aggregator's comment system.

There's no value in having a newspaper that no one reads.

Then explain the major journals published by Wiley, Elsevier, and Springer, which cloak their results on Google and charge an order of magnitude more than this for even a day's access.

Re:so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638372)

Option one

Get out your credit card, type in your card number, ccv number, billing address and 3d secure password. Set up a username and password. Remember them.

Option two

Visit one of the following sites for your news requirements

news.bbc.co.uk
www.guardian.co.uk
www.telegraph.co.uk
www.independent.co.uk
news.sky.com (at least until he puts that one behind the paywall as well)

Which do you think most people will go for?

BBC, Guardian and Telegraph already have more readers than the Times.

Re:so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (1)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638132)

The idea is that with more/some funding they'd be better able to hire qualified journalists, coders, servers, and equipment (note, I'm not making a comment on the current quality of their work). It isn't entirely unreasonable to to want to be paid when you do some work, as opposed to having it entirely distributed for free. The internet has the pros and cons with regards to distribution. It makes it much cheaper to reach a wide audience, but it may also be harder to get money from that audience by traditional means since they can probably find a free copy or variant of that work. Because of this, more planning has to go into a viable business model. For a good example,.just look at wikipedia and wikileaks. They survive off of donations. In another example, web comics like penny-arcade and pvponline do well through delivering free content and selling advertising/merchandise. In order to deal with server and employee costs, they naturally need money. The only difference in Murdoch's case, is that he's reacting poorly to the changing environment. He needs money to keep everything going, but charging explicitly for the content may not work.

The Wall Street Journal (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31638080)

The Wall Street Journal is/was almost like that. When he first took it over, the price doubled to $2 then went to $2.50, then to $3, then back down to $2.50, then back to $2 then lastly, my local grocery store is charging the sales tax on top of it which is 6% for a $2.12 paper in my area. It drove me and the damn cashiers batty.

In the meantime, I was still getting the $99 - $109 annual subscription "special" in the mail. I don't like the Morning deliveries on my driveway.

Now, considering that the daily news is available for free - still - and the WSJ exclusive content isn't all that it can be (it pales in comparison to the Economist), I think Murdoch can stick his papers down under.

Re:so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (1, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638108)

The whole point of the 1$/day price is to make people that try to "game" the paper and only buy it on the good news days and not the slow ones pay more, while the weekly subscription makes you buy the whole week whether something interesting happens in the folllowing 6 days or not. The risk/value proposition is completely different and so your extrapolation is nonsense too. 104$/year is probably what they expect to make on a regular reader, maybe you can push it down to 80-90$ by paying for all year but there's no way you're getting another 2/3rds rebate just paying yearly instead of weekly.

Re:so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31638112)

Oh my ... you people seriously need this.

Maybe it'll teach you some rudimentary knowledge. Like how many days a year has or that there are currencies other than the USD ;)

Re:so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31638126)

How far does this progression go? Is a lifetime subscription only $5? I might pay that...

Re:so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638148)

Assuming you're using US dollars, it's more like $520 at the daily rate and $150 at the weekly rate.

Re:so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31638210)

I'd sooner register a new email address once a month for the free trial period.

I wonder if anyone has thought of creating a something that registers new accounts automatically and logs you in with the new account as they expire...

Maybe it could be an extended service of one of those online presence management sites that registers you for a list of social networks for you. Then you just go to one site and have fewer accounts to deal with.

Re:so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (1)

wgoodman (1109297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638224)

uhm..
So I didn't RTFA, but the summary says pounds, not dollars. That'd be $544 and $152 respectively using current exchange rates.

Re:so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31638348)

It's not a matter of cost, I mean, people already pay for their newspapers, but in an enviroment where information travels freely, making them pay as they would for a paper version would require some really high quality content, I mean real news not tabloid garbage that you find everywhere. The drop in views will be there, only an idiot wouldn't know that, but if this works they'll regain any losses fairly fast.

Re:so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31638004)

£52 is about $78...

Re:so, that's like $350/year (USD) ? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638344)

$2.98 per week at current exchange rates, but if you want to pay in US$, you will be charged $4, so it may be cheaper to pay in £ and swallow your banks transaction fees.

This is a good thing... (5, Interesting)

bguiz (1627491) | more than 4 years ago | (#31637984)

because if this eventual-epic-fail causes Rupert Murdoch to lose just some of his monopoly power over the media, the world will be better off for it.

Re:This is a good thing... (1)

hebertrich (472331) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638068)

It's a good thing. period.
It will keep gullible people away from his disinformation.
Biased and misleading info should be kept from view and asking such a high
price to access it guarantees lower readership , hence , people will turn to real
information and trustworthy outlets and the world will be better for it.
Did i just call Murdoch's publications biased and misleading ? You bet
I suggest all the republicans owning media should in fact charge even more
so's to keep the american citizens away from that disinformation garbage.
Limbaugh should also charge 100 bucks a day for his broadcasts.
Good riddance.

Re:This is a good thing... (1)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638106)

>99.999999% of all [earth] media is biased, and what is not biased is not written by humans.

Re:This is a good thing... (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638276)

He's a True Believer. You can't fix them; you just have to ignore them. In his mind, Rush Limbaugh isn't an over-the-top radio host who occasionally asks a good question in the midst of rants; he's the embodiment of pure evil on earth who takes a break from whipping third world slaves in his basement only to have a fresh blended puppy shake with a baby seal topping served piping hot from a giant open-air fire fueled only with tropical hardwoods.

Regarding digital goods... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31637988)

I remember reading about an experiment where one of the online distributors of video games (Valve?) played with game pricing. A $40 per copy game, and found that as they dropped the price closer and closer to $1, their total revenues and # of sales only went up.

Found it! Near the end of this article: http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=22378

Re:Regarding digital goods... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31638238)

That works as a one time experiment because the product you try it on is a cheap, discounted exception.

If you do this with all games, you'll lose money because people can only play a fixed number of games per week/month/year.

No decent micro-payment system. (2, Interesting)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638010)

For these business models to work there needs to be a decent micro-payment system. I don't want to get out my credit card for every single website, especially for small amounts, and don't want to pay a subscription for a service I don't know if I will regularly use. Paypal is currently the only real player, and in my opinion they are a bunch of crooks who are playing legal games to avoid having banking regulations applied to them and subsequently having their dirty laundry aired.

National and international banking systems need to get together and figure out a proper micro-payment system (with amount limits so dodgy websites can't drain your account) before this sort of business model will take off. I might be tempted to pay 10 cents to read an article, but not if I have to pull out my credit card on the spot or sign up for a subscription first. Instead what will happen is regular users will sign up and everyone else will go to the free sites. The results being the regulars pay more to cover the running costs and possibly the failure of the website to sustain itself due to loss of ad revenue.

Re:No decent micro-payment system. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638096)

figure out a proper micro-payment system

Isn't that what itunes is?

Re:No decent micro-payment system. (1)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638278)

iTunes isn't the web. And I would also rather avoid giving Apple a slice of the money I am trying to give to someone else, just as I avoid giving a large slice to PayPal.

Re:No decent micro-payment system. (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638322)

iTunes requires that all things that the user pays for be hosted by Apple. I understood the_raptor's comment to mean that there needs to be a micropayment system used by several different merchants.

OMG (1)

GC (19160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638012)

Not that anyone will necessarily listen to me, though obviously they must be listening to Rupert.

I have not bought a newspaper, watched Sky (for anything other than football) for the best part of seven years. Why the hell do they think that I might get my credit card out in order to listen what they have to say, they should pay me for the benefit of listening to them.

Failblog.org (3, Funny)

retech (1228598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638018)

I bet that failblog, once posting Murdoch's photo, will have a higher hit count than the Times.

Re:Failblog.org (1)

alex67500 (1609333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638196)

if posted on /. it's possible they will even loose count... after all, posting something here is the best DDOS attack on websites! =)

This might have worked... (3, Interesting)

gruntled (107194) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638022)

...before Murdoch destroyed one of the greatest newspapers in the world. I'd gladly pay to read the NYT or the Washington Post online, just as I've paid for the WSJ online for a decade, but pay to read Murdoch's crap? Heck, I'd gladly pay money to keep it from showing up in my search results.

Re:This might have worked... (4, Informative)

jonatha (204526) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638062)

...before Murdoch destroyed one of the greatest newspapers in the world. I'd gladly pay to read the NYT or the Washington Post online, just as I've paid for the WSJ online for a decade, but pay to read Murdoch's crap? Heck, I'd gladly pay money to keep it from showing up in my search results.

Murdoch's crap now includes the WSJ. Just sayin....

Re:This might have worked... (1)

gruntled (107194) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638286)

Yes, good point, but he hasn't yet destroyed the WSJ.

Re:This might have worked... (1)

McHenry Boatride (1661199) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638222)

And the great thing is that now Murdoch's outlets won't show up in the search results! And you don't have to pay a cent.

Compare to cloaking on Google Scholar (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638332)

Murdoch's outlets won't show up in the search results

That is, unless Murdoch does an "approved cloaking" deal with Google like Springer, Elsevier, and Wiley have done.

Wish them luck! (seriously!) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31638038)

I think this is a good concept, though, perhaps a bit spendy. I'd rather see it billed in fractions of a cent pr. page load.

All the people who filter out ads... you should be thankful the industry is trying to find alternate streams of revenue!

Re:Wish them luck! (seriously!) (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638198)

Nope, micropayments never work. First off, most people read very few articles. Secondly, people hate being nickle and dimed. I might pay a subscription (for a non-Murdoch paper), but I'd never pay per page. I'd go anywhere else instead.

But if you're going subscription, I better not see any AP articles- you better be doing your own research. No way in hell would I pay for AP that's free everywhere.

Murdoch (4, Interesting)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638078)

Back in the day, when Murdoch started in Australia, his commercial rival was Kerry Packer. Both of them lobbied hard to have media cross ownership laws broken down so they eventually ended up owning most of the Australian media outlets (newspapers and such like). Murdoch left Australia, where his base company Publishing and Broadcast Limited was formed after establishing a strong commercial base with Fox in the US. Murdoch is grooming his son to take over, and he seems even scarier than dad.

Meanwhile, back in Au, Packer died and his son took over who ended up selling off his Broadcast and Publishing businesses to get into Casinos.

The void left behind is utterly bland, and the media cross ownership laws left behind have just allowed companies interested in asset stripping to come in and, well, do what they do.

The only interesting media is Publicly owned, and I hope the BBC will reverse their decision to back away from internet media. It's that kind of thinking that is the future. It's probably time for these old commercial medias to die off anyway having seen what they look like when they die. The irony in all this was to watch the public broadcasters point out that some PBL papers were plagiarising peoples weblogs at the very time Murdoch was talking of paywalls. If they can't develop original content, people will see it's crap, Faux looses advertising revenue and Murdoch just put another nail in commercial media's coffin.

It will be interesting to watch this comedy play out.

Re:Murdoch (1)

gavcam (120595) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638166)

The Packer's owned Publishing and Broadcast Limited... never has been affiliated with Murdoch in anyway.

Murdoch's company is News Corp.

The Guardian (4, Insightful)

Joe Jay Bee (1151309) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638084)

Thankfully, the Guardian [guardian.co.uk] , which has far superior journalism and doesn't seek to ram politics down everyone's throats in "news" stories like News International's papers do (people often talk of the paper being liberal, which on its comments pages is largely true, but they do a good job of keeping it out of their news reporting), remains free for everyone with an extensive back archive. And of course the BBC exists too... thank God.

I can only echo the poster above who said he hopes Murdoch puts up more paywalls. Murdoch's shitty reporting and deliberately biased and bigoted publications have ruined political discourse in this country.

Re:The Guardian (4, Interesting)

Adlopa (686151) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638270)

The Guardian is indeed an excellent source of free news, but with pre-tax losses of nearly $134m [pressgazette.co.uk] last year, it's anyone's guess how long that will last.

The BBC isn't in the same boat, of course, since it's funded by British licence fee payers, but should the Conservatives win the next general election, its operation also looks set [newstatesman.com] to be scaled back considerably.

Re:The Guardian (3, Insightful)

knaapie (214889) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638288)

What people tend to forget is that any newsoutlet needs to pay for the content they deliver, either through paying journalists or through paying press agencies. Because newspapers do not get enough money from advertising, they currently need to let journalists go. Press agencies need to lower prices as well, because newspapers expect more for less. The current business model is not maintainable, everyone is losing. Most of all the readers, who are more and more getting the exact same news from any paper, without the indepth research we should be able to expect from journalists.
The current business model has to give, and this is a first step.

You may not like paying for your news, in the end someone has to pay for it...

Re:The Guardian (1)

jbb999 (758019) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638292)

The guardian? Don't make me laugh! They are probably the least objective newspaper in the UK. They have a huge agenda of pushing public services and the taxes to pay for them

Re:The Guardian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31638350)

... and they're losing money hand over fist. How much longer can they keep going?

Re:The Guardian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31638366)

they're currently in a real anti-BA mode - and coincidently their CEO is to take over one of BA's main competitors, EasyJet in September. You'll find posts stating this fact on their webpage mysteriously removed by moderators within minutes.

Re:The Guardian (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638340)

IIRC the Grauniad is losing money hand over fist. Believe me, if this works they'll be next on the bandwagon.

Re:The Guardian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31638420)

Remember this .... This bastard's mates - who are certain to be the next UK government - are quite prepared to destroy the BBC on his behalf .....

If only... (4, Funny)

retech (1228598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638086)

I wish Murdoch would charge us £1 per time we want to hear him speak. We'd thankfully have the man silenced forever.

this is a good idea... (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638104)

...and other media outlets will follow it. The fact that Murdoch has an agenda doesn't mean that he doesn't understand his business.

If you want to see what happens to the effort put into journalism in newspapers paid for by advertising alone, you have centuries of precedent. You have to ask yourself: who is your customer? The person who reads your paper, or the person who buys advertising space? To produce a newspaper/web site designed to increase the number of views/clicks of adverts is a very different skills from producing a newspaper/website designed to amass a loyal readership.

What is more, and especially with the consolidation of advertising brokers (Google, the Walmart elephant in the room), businesses are guaranteed to have dwindling revenues if they rely on advertising alone.

Re:this is a good idea... (1)

klingens (147173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638186)

You have to ask yourself: who is your customer? The person who reads your paper, or the person who buys advertising space? To produce a newspaper/web site designed to increase the number of views/clicks of adverts is a very different skills from producing a newspaper/website designed to amass a loyal readership.

All traditional dead tree newspapers across the world already answered this decades ago: the advertisers. Advertisers are the ones who pay the biggest fraction of newspaper production costs.

Re:this is a good idea... (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638264)

Do you have evidence for this? Perhaps you'll want to qualify "all" first.

Then consider why, even if 60% of revenue comes from advertisers, your exercise is entirely different from the usual web model where 100% of revenue comes therefrom.

I'm still looking forward to in-depth investigative reports in the style of the highbrow dead tree media (and their online subscriber-only equivalents) from /just one/ online site which relies entirely on advertising revenue. I miss spending Sunday mornings reading a 10-page write-up from a random nonspecialist publication which has clearly taken the writer weeks and many resources to prepare... it is still possible, but most of the general publications that once offered this have moved to the tabloid on+offline model where I'm offered:
(1) Re-wordings of press releases;
(2) A tediously verbose review of some product;
(3) Endless sophomoric political rants with poor copyediting, poor understanding of the system, and poor attempts to hide bias.

Good News (1)

Timtimes (730036) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638116)

This little test will ultimately go down in flames. The propaganda he spews needs to be spread as far and wide as possible. So they'll either reopen the flood gates or find some other form of wingnut welfare to fund the dispersal of misinformation. The universe of people willing to be paid to be lied to isn't nearly large enough to feed the hunger of such greedy sociopaths. Watch and see. Enjoy.

I wouldn't mind paying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31638118)

if quality is also improved. E.g. more, better and easily searchable content with no ads.
The crap they call their on line edition today I can do without.

5%... possible? (4, Interesting)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638120)

It's hinted in the article -- and I've seen it elsewhere -- that if they retain 5% of their current online readership, that counts as a win.

That's a small enough number that my instinct ("Nobody'll pay for it") doesn't feel all that reliable.

Is it just about possible that 5% will pay? I think it's unlikely, but not completely impossible. It'll be interesting to see, that's for sure.

Re:5%... possible? (1)

fremsley471 (792813) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638216)

And remember that £1 and £2 are the 'starting' prices. They won't go down and only small increments will mean that the 5% win will have only to be a 4..3..2..1% win.

Re:5%... possible? (1)

bazorg (911295) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638256)

Well, if instead of calling them "newspapers" they name their product "News ringtone" or "iPhone News App", then they can expect millions of units to sell for £1 each.

Re:5%... possible? (2, Interesting)

ScaryTom (1057310) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638268)

If the readership drops to 5% of its current number, won't that put advertisers off a bit? Or have they factored that into their pricing strategy?

Re:5%... possible? (1)

pgdave (1774092) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638304)

At 1 pound, that's entirely possible. For a pound, you can buy the paper version. That price covers the raw materials, the printing and overheads, the distribution and the retailer's profit margin. I don't know what the profit margin on a physical paper is (5p?), but it has to be way less than a pound. An electronic version need only cover journalists and overheads. That might be, what, 10p? Making a very fat 90p gross profit. That could well be 20 times the gross profit on a paper version.

Re:5%... possible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31638314)

I think it is actually more than likely that it will work.
People will pay for things, especially at such low prices because 1 major unit of currency is usually seen by the brain as something easily disposable, whereas paying £7 up-front for the whole week is less likely to happen because it has some sense of commitment towards it, and generally just being a larger number.

Although, If they had it at half the value, they would probably gain a much much larger group of readers.
50p for the usual news, £1 for bigger news events, £2 for exclusives, that would probably work.

Of course, there is going to be a huge amount of backlash and fights between the groups, almost certainly in-fighting too.
It is going to be a messy decade for online news.

I'll miss the Letters page (but little else) (1)

andyh-rayleigh (512868) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638170)

It'll be annoying to lose access to the letters page (and make it even less likely that I'll ever get a letter published there), but I won't be paying 100 quid a year and I'll be "wasting" 5 minutes less each day reading that.

Re:I'll miss the Letters page (but little else) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31638282)

There's a distinct possibility that once the walls go up, the letters page will drop off to the point where you will not be missing much anyway.

Don't underestimate them. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31638194)

People underestimate Murdoch at their peril. He isn't an idiot, even if he did invest in MySpace. This will work, unfortunately.

He isn't expecting people to pay £1/day or £2/week for the content that is available right now on timesonline.co.uk; they've recognised that they're going to need to offer something that no other free news source can. If by subscribing I get to ask questions in a live Q&A with, say, political analysts or MPs (or whoever, idk...) and also access to whatever else they happen to have lined up, then that is something a lot of people in their target readership are likely to go for. The success of this will be decided on the quality and *perceived* value of the extra content.

Interestingly, the same thing is happening with the Sun and News of the World sites.

1 pound ?!?!? (1)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638228)

So are they going to charge the same price for electronic and printed editions ?!? Maybe they will find some customers abroad, where the paper edition costs more, but I doubt they will get many customers in UK.

Deja vu all over again? (3, Interesting)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638242)

Newspaper paywalls already failed in other countries. Why would it work in the UK? Papers make money from advertising. Asking the readers to pay will drive them away and the advertisers will follow shortly after.

Fools and their money are soon parted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31638290)

Could be Murdoch or could be you, if he succeeds.

When you pay for content on the internet it usually means you give up your real life identity. That combined with what you think (i.e. read) is an extremely valuable commodity.

It is also information that can be used against you should it come to that. It infringes on your right to privacy and to hold your own thoughts.

The internet offers tremendous cost savings over print. Murdoch is an extremely greedy man and too stupid to know how to successfully associate content with advertisement or advertisement with content. Or to successfully make the argument that ads should be paid for even if they aren't clicked on.

The identity driven information Murdoch could glean from you is even greater than anything Google ever imagined.

They should value my attention (2, Insightful)

solferino (100959) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638300)

What Murdoch and the rest of the 'Content Kings' don't get is that content is no longer king.

These guys should be happy that they are getting my attention - that I'm literally paying them attention. You want me to pay money on top of me paying attention? Forget it. The whole world has a press now and there are millions of people out there - with interesting or intelligent or entertaining or titillating or whatever content - that would be just happy for me to paying them attention.

Murdoch seems to be attempting to hypnotise the public into thinking we need his stuff so badly we'll be prepared to pay for it. We don't.

This is great!!! (4, Informative)

iCantSpell (1162581) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638336)

Pay walled news is the best thing that could happen to the news industry. Now people will go looking for news elsewhere and they will actually find NEWS. *cough*http://www.unknownnews.org/*cough*

This is me, catching breath (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638352)

Let me get this straight: You want me to pay a buck a day to cram your propaganda down my throat?

*collapses in a twitching, giggling heap on the floor again*

If you can sell that, get a few fences to paint, you could make a killing!

Just switched .. (1)

niks42 (768188) | more than 4 years ago | (#31638408)

from the Times to The Guardian for my non-BBC value added news source of the morning. Bye, Times.
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