Commercial News vs Public News

5 minute read

A war has erupted and it is being fought across the newspapers of the world and also in senate hearings. It is a war that the commercial newspapers, radio and television networks have a invested a lot of time in debating. But have they got a chance of changing the dynamic of the way we read news and watch television?

I have been spending the last few weeks researching my second article on ‘newspapers and the online world‘ but will not release this until next week now, as this issue deserves an article on its own. Lets have a little look at what this is all about.

The Murdoch Aproach
On a cool August night at the Edinburgh TV festival James Murdoch launched a blistering attack on the BBC, describing their ambitions as “chilling” and accused them of mounting a “land grab” in a media market that has been decimated by the US recession and downturn in classifieds and revenue.

James basically thinks that the BBC should be scrapped, or at least held to account and its role diminished. In the UK the BBC is huge and is probably the most popular network in the country as it spews out Television, Radio classics with gay abandon. It also is the voice of the news across the country. Each taxpayer in the UK pays about 180 pounds a year to fund the BBC and from facts and figures it very patriotic about the BBC, much as we would be here in Australia.

Rupert on the other hand wants Google to pay a fee for any pages of content indexed not only on its news site but also on its website and has also sounded a warning to Yahoo, MSN and other news aggregators. Maybe MSN and Yahoo will come running as they are being left behind by Google, but for the majority of users on the Internet and the majority of articles and Tweets, News Ltd has few friends.

This attack actually shows how little Rupert actually understands about the Internet and is quite embarrassing for him.

“The philistine phase of the digital age is almost over,” he said. “The aggregators and plagiarists will soon have to pay a price for the co-opting of our content. But if we do not take advantage of the current movement toward paid-for content, it will be the content creators, the people in this hall, who will pay the ultimate price, and the content kleptomaniacs will triumph.” Rupert Murdoch said.

Fast Company’s Kit Eaton has a great little article that throws a pretty decent punch into the loins of Ruperts argument.

Despite Murdoch’s rants about paid content, it’s widely known that the subscription pay walls at his own Wall Street Journal site are easily circumvented if you search for the headline…using Google.

And Google broadcasts (for all to see) methods by which you can prevent its crawler bots indexing your page–hence keeping its link off Google’s indexed searches, and (in Murdoch’s mind) keeping Google’s thieving hands off his lovely expensively-created news content.

Murdoch’s newspaper’s Web page code doesn’t block Google’s robot.

Rupert hopes that every newspaper will follow his lead and start charging for content – in effect making it harder for the public to get to the news unless they pay for it, but it cannot do this if the BBC and ABC spit it out for free.

Rupert’s problem is – he has not got too many friends in his own market and one thing is for sure – if there is a new way, they will not be jumping on a New Ltd owned solution anytime soon.

Senate Hearings
How strange that the Liberal Party are already moving into the commercial corner with Senator Ian McDonald (LNP) questioning Mark Scott on remuneration for ABC TV personalities. Basically Ian McDonald thinks that all ABC should be public, after all, the public do find it!

I can tell you my position on this and that is I agree 100% with Senator McDonald. I am of the opinion that anytime a single cent of the public’s money is spent it should be available online and we should know exactly where it is being spent. If you want to make money from the public, this is the price you pay for the generosity of the public purse.

However Senator McDonald and other politicians should take notice, how about we extend this to local, state and federal government deals? Yes, no more commercial in confidence, secret public/private deals behind close doors. If you use our money or profit from it in any way, by law, we should know where every last cent of it goes, at the time a deal is inked!


James Murdoch Speech

ABC news


Rupert Murdoch Says Google Is Stealing His Content. So Why Doesn’t He Stop Them?
Scott to hit back on criticism of ABC’s internet space
Google News Search
List of News Aggregator Websites and Software

Over to you

How many of us would give up the ABC News, Radio or Television to let the commercial networks run the show? Would we see the same level of quality?

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  • Craig
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 7:42 am 0Likes

    Nick, Google aren’t thinking, they are too busy laughing.

  • Nick
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 7:31 am 0Likes

    Absolutely not. Mind you I sometimes think that commercial news is pretty bad already.
    Getting rid of the competition would make them slide in to nonsense.

    I really wonder what Google is thinking right now.
    Murdoch will eventually try to push the issue, and Google will kick his butt as they decline to pay, and then to comply they remove all his websites.
    Its just a question of how much further until that happens.

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 8:52 am 0Likes

    Too funny – stockbrokers should be placing a sell recommendation on News stocks as they are have NFI how the modern day digital platforms work. I well remember having a conversation with Peter Ricci some months ago where Peter told me if you watch the Seven or Nine news bulletins then at 7.00 pm watch the ABC they bear absolutely no resemblance. One is fact and the other often fiction.

    The Google Monster will cause grievous media harm on this one if they want to play nasty. Google is too big, too fast and too strong! And not for sale 🙂

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 10:49 pm 0Likes

    I think we all would be kidding ourselves if we thought Rupert didn’t have a few strategies, but we only have to look at any industry (music) that kicks and screams its way to reform, they are all on the edge of the abyss now.

    I would love to see Fairfax or News actually jump on the front foot. Anyway more of that in next weeks issue.

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