It appears that Rupert Murdoch is pressing ahead with plans to charge readers for content of his online news output. This will include The Sun, The Time and The Wall Street Journal. Part of the plan will be to block Google from searching these publications so preventing any chance of free access.

The Wall Street Journal already restricts access to some of its content but this can be accessed via Google at the moment, but not by navigating within the site itself.

The problem for Murdoch (and for the rest of the industry for that matter) is that with falling newspaper sales and therefore less revenue from any related advertising, making a profit is very hard. But people are moving to the internet to get news, but they’re getting it for free. There is the chance of online advertising, but this does not seem to be covering the huge overheads that the international press has.

There is then the problem of readers cutting and pasting the articles for their own use, which may impact on revenue.  Especially as many people quote the ‘fair use’ rules to get around any legal challenge, something that Murdoch is also looking at challenging.

Murdoch seems to have come to the conclusion that pay-to-read is the way ahead for his business to recoup his income. Should this prove successful, this model may well be copied by other Internet publishers.

This will lead to limitations in what people read and may lead to a culling of some smaller publishers as the big boys take over. After all, people can only afford so many subscriptions.

The loss of free Internet news may seem like a loss of freedom, but it is a new phenomenon and someone has to pay the researchers, journalists and editors or there will be no news.

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