Rupert Murdoch is not a man to be ignored. His recent proclamation that good internet content will need to be paid for may have drawn howls from the critics but he makes good sense. So what has Rupert’s stance got to do with us, you may well ask?
Speaking from personal experience, I can assure you that when this man sets his sights on something he achieves it. Back in 1985, yes 1985, he had the foresight to cobble together a string of small bleeding-edge technology companies, mine included, to produce a CD with all the information of all the hotels in the world on it. He had just acquired the OHRG (Overseas Hotel and Resort Guide), that massive publication that all travel agents had on their desks at the time, and he wanted it to be his first foray into the uncharted waters of ‘electronic publishing’. The OHRG was reputed to be the single, most profitable publication in the world at the time he had acquired it from Ziff-Davis.
I attended a breakfast meeting in New York with all the players in this ‘experiment’ where he stood up and stated that e-publishing was the way of the future but until the fledgeling internet would reach every consumer we would have to rely on traditional distribution chains to get this ground-breaking CD technology to the market and accepted. So, instead of sending each travel agent a 5 kg book each quarter they would get a CD to run on their IBM PC (also relatively new at the time).
He was years ahead of his competition then and his hunch on e-publishing has come to fruition now that the internet is so easily accessible. However, in the rush to garner acceptance and increase internet usage, most of its content is offered free and people have gotten used to it being free. Mr Murdoch rightfully points out that his publishing empire has to pay dearly to create this news content and people that are now quite happy to pay for a newspaper or magazine should also be willing to pay for the richer, online experience, and at a much lower price.
i think he’s right. I currently have all my magazines downloaded to my Zinio reader each month at about one tenth the news stand price. I read them just as I would the paper versions but I can zoom in and out, turn pages freely, hit an ad and be taken to another site, hit embedded links to read sidebars and can even enjoy videos linked to an article. I do the same with my daily fix of newspapers from six countries. I save trees, I save money and I have a much richer experience than getting newsprint on my fingers. I am not only willing to pay the much reduced price for this experience, I’m happy to do so.
You can see the full interview with Rupert Murdoch here.