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News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch's strategy to get people to pay for content: get their credit card numbers

June 2, 2010 |  4:46 pm

News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch, whose holdings include the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, explained in an interview with his Fox Business Network how he plans to get people to pay for content online. It doesn't sound too complex.

Said Murdoch: "Simple. You turn them off. They've got to sign on. They give you their credit card number.  And that's it. And then you e-mail them and say you're putting the price up or you're taking it down or whatever."

Murdoch, who was attending the Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital conference, which draws moguls, industry leaders and regulators including Apple's Steve Jobs, Comcast's Steve Burke and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, added that "we have to charge for the electronic distribution of information, because it costs money to employ good journalists and good editors."

A highlight of the conference -- which the WSJ is smartly not streaming live although maybe it should have set up a subscription model -- was a clip of Wall Street Journal writer Kara Swisher's interview with Steve Burke, the chief operating officer of Comcast. Swisher tried to make a case for giving consumers the option to choose each channel they want and Burke countered that he'd like to just pay for the front section of the Wall Street Journal. Swisher's response was to compare the daily price of the Wall Street Journal to the monthly price of getting cable.

Besides the apples to oranges comparison, she understated the cost of her her own paper, saying it now runs 75 cents a day. Burke pointed out it was now $2.00 on the newsstand. That comes out to about $60 a month, not much less than what a digital cable subscription costs. She would've been better off noting that one can subscribe to the paper for the low price of about $120 a year, according to its website. That's a bargain.

-- Joe Flint

Video: Rupert Murdoch on paying for content.