Mrs Miggins’ Coffee Shop

Monday, 9 November 2009

Murdoch has vowed to stop people reading The Times for free.

The website (which I only use sometimes to read Giles Coren’s restaurant reviews) will vanish behind a paywall. Over my breakfast, I tweeted that – given the habit of News International to massage their ABCs through giveaways on First Great Western – I felt I would still manage to read the Times for free. Patrolucus then informed me that the bulk sales may be on the way out as well.

So, essentially, Murdoch wants a return of the C18th coffee house.

The only people who will still pay for the Times – in any meaningful sense – will be readers who can afford it (either online or hardcopy) and cafes who continue to buy it to let customers read it. If the readership dwindles, what of ad revenue? And if readership and ad revenue dwindles, the cover price increases. Leading to a vicious circle, until it’ll be cheaper to buy a double latte and skim the paper in Caffè Nero than it will to buy the paper.

I knew he was regressive, but taking The Times of London back to the C18th seems excessive.

He also objects to the concept of fair use. I hope The Times is therefore planning to pay The Telegraph for all those stories they wrote off the back of the latter’s scoop on MPs’ expenses, and the Grauniad for covering Trafigura. To name but two stories broken by other papers.

Footnote: whilst searching the Times Online to find examples of stories where other papers’ journo’s had done the hard work, I was amused to notice the search URL includes ‘turnOffGoogleAds=false’ i.e. Times Online currently makes money from…er…GoogleAds.

Google have also responded to Murdoch, whilst I was off having my tea, with what amounts to “go ahead, see if we care”.

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