News Corp. leads talks of pay-for-content

Executives from Ruport Murdoch’s News Corp. have been meeting with other publishers about forming a consortium to charge for news content online, says the L.A. Times’ Company Town blog.

Publishers contacted include New York Times Co., Washington Post Co., Hearst Corp. and Tribune Co., publisher of the Los Angeles Times. News Corp.’s holdings include Wall Street Journal Online, which boasts more than 1 million paying subscribers.

“News Corp.’s solution is the latest proposal to publishers seeking to wring money from Internet readers to offset double-digit drops in print and online revenue,” the blog says. “Steve Brill’s Journalism Online initiative garnered attention this spring when it announced plans to create the tools to allow publishers to collect fees for digital distribution, and recently announced that more than 500 newspapers had joined.”

Publications like the WSJ and Financial Times have succeeded with a paid-for-content model in part, the blog says, because financial traders need the timely information they provide. Whether readers will pay for general news, sports and entertainment content is a different matter. “It’s probably going to be small dollars,” said Edward Atorino, media analyst at Benchmark Co. “For a big media company, it’s going to add a little bit to a giant pile.”

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