Rupert Murdoch’s last great battle, getting people to pay for on-line content, has been much discussed. The general view is that he will not win. As I have previously said, the issue is not that people won’t pay for content, it is that they won’t pay for distribution, when distribution is free. Here is some more evidence that he is heading for a fall.
Speaking recently to the National Press Club at the George Washington University he asserted that people will pay for content when they “have nowhere else to go” i.e. when everyone else is also charging for content. However, this is never going to happen: not because other content providers won’t collude with Murdoch and also erect paywalls around their content, but because people already have somewhere else to go and this place is not a newspaper or other form of institutionalised news provider. This is why newspapers are dying, not because newspapers’ content is available free in the digital space. The institution of a newspaper is being replaced by the process of information sharing using the tools of social media.
The people who have nowhere else to go are newspaper proprietors – not consumers.