News consortium seeks end of free content

The days of free news on the internet could be numbered, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times that claims News Corp executives have been hawking the idea of a consortium of publishers around potential partners.

News consortium seeks end of free content

According to the report, senior News Corp executives have met with counterparts at the major publishing houses to build a strategy to start charging for content en masse.

The move follows News Corp owner Rupert Murdoch’s assertion that his company would start charging for content “within a year”.

“The digital revolution has opened many new and inexpensive methods of distribution,” Murdoch has said. “But it has not made content free. Accordingly, we intend to charge for all our news websites.”

The possibility of forming a consortium to make charging for content possible reflects the growing animosity traditional publishers have for the internet news sites they feel enjoy all the benefits of supplying news without having pay for a reporting network.

Wall Street Journal editor Robert Thomson is on record as saying that Google and other news aggregators which believe content should be free are “parasites or tech tapeworms in the intestines of the Internet”.

The LA Times report suggests the major news providers realise they cannot successfully start charging unless they all start doing so at the same time.

“The reality is that unless a lot of people who produce news act in unison to start charging for content, then individually they will fail,” the newspaper quoted media consultant Alan Mutter as saying.

News Corp could not be immediately reached for comment.

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