Murdoch to unveil paywall for news content soon
News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch said the company planned to hold a press conference "in three to four weeks" to announce details of a new subscription model for news and other digital content.
People with knowledge of the situation said that Murdoch is poised to announce details of plans to form a consortium that would charge for news distributed online and on portable devices. News Corp. executives met with publishers last summer to discuss joining forces to collect fees from readers who access stories via the Internet or their gadgets.
"Today, we're in final discussions with a number of publishers, device makers and technology companies and soon we'll deliver an innovative subscription model that will deliver content to consumers whenever, wherever they want it," Murdoch said Tuesday, during News Corp.'s third-quarter earnings call.
Under the proposal, diverse news organizations would contribute stories and videos to a website that could be accessed by those who pay subscription fees. The participants would each be compensated on a pro-rated basis, determined by the amount of content they contribute to the site.
News Corp. would provide the technology to power the subscription news offering, drawing from systems that already exist to power the Wall Street Journal's online site, people familiar with the proposal say.
Murdoch, during the earnings call, said revenue from digital distribution -- whether via a website or portable devices such as Apple Inc.'s new tablet computer, the iPad -- amounts to a windfall for media corporations.
"Now we're charging about $4 a week for the Wall Street Journal" on the iPad, Murdoch said. "And that is an introductory thing. I imagine over the years, that will creep up, and it doesn't cost a penny in incremental cost."
The Journal has attracted 64,000 subscribers since the launch of the iPad in April.
Murdoch told analysts and journalists that he envisions incorporating entertainment content as well.
-- Dawn C. Chmielewski
Photo: Rupert Murdoch. Credit: Stephen Chernin / Associated Press