Daily Archives: August 7, 2009

Maybe we should make the BBC force us to pay for its web site

There’s a good piece on PaidContent.org about Rupert Murdoch’s plans to charge for News International’s web content. Part of this will be to charge for access to The Sun and the News of the World online.

How will he manage to do this?

“Just make our content better and differentiate it from other people. And I believe if we’re successful, we will be followed by all the media.”

Well, maybe. Anyone familiar with this blog knows I’m sceptical about the ability of general news media to charge for content to the extent that they need to. Sure, they may make some money from subscriptions online, but enough to fund an entire news operation? And enough to make up for the decline in advertising revenue that will come from having a much smaller readership?

As others have suggested, the real commercial model for media will probably come from added value services (maybe apps, maybe something else). I suspect the old menu of news and, increasingly, entertainment is just not different enough from the free alternatives.

And before anyone starts banging on about how the free stuff is no good, look at how many people happily read the crappy free newspapers on the train rather than buying a “quality” paper. People don’t see it as a problem for the most part.

But Murdoch himself acknowledges the key problem:

“Frankly, the big free competition will be coming from the BBC.”

Perhaps the solution is to force the BBC to put up a pay wall at the same time. That way we’ll see if users can be tempted to pay for news content when there’s no decent free alternative…

[HT: Jessica]

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