So that’s how it’s going to be, then. Rupert Murdoch today hinted that his decision to charge for online content will be enabled by building walls and closing access by legal action. Not very new media.
The decision to charge for content on News Corporation’s media sites around the world (which include The Times and The Sun in the UK, Wall Street Journal via Dow Jones and The Australian) seemed like the first step in a sensible direction for online media.
Coming just a week after he admitted his online payment plans are behind schedule, Murdoch’s interview on Sky News Australia reveals he is prepared to take a very heavy-handed approach to ensuring he creates a watertight system for monetising his online media assets.
Is this worth it? While there is rock-solid logic to the argument for charging for media content when there is a cost associated with its creation and distribution, it’s not clear that issuing threats to sue the BBC will genuinely help the media industry move towards a sensible settlement with its customers.
What’s holding back online media is a lack of micropayment standards to allow them to make money from their work. The focus should be on the establishment of a standard that allows users to pay for what they use, without onerous barriers to entry (so a mix of prepay and post-billed options would make sense).
Even if this is merely the opening parry in what could turn out to be a prolonged negotiation through lawyers and the media, its disappointing that News Corporation’s reputation with anyone other than shareholders seems to have passed the old dog by on this occasion.
I’m not suggesting Murdoch should be operating on behalf of anyone other than his own shareholders… but could you imagine Google looking after its own interests in such a blunt and one-dimensional way?