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Can Murdoch and Microsoft Save the Newspaper World?

David Silversmith
David Silversmith

News Corp chief executive Rupert Murdoch has said that readers will start paying fees to read his papers within the next year and that the News Corp will probably remove its stories from Google news searches.  While Internet pundits have laughed at Murdoch - Microsoft could change the game.

Rupert Murdoch’s has been on a crusade to blame Google for the failing newspaper business model.  He has emerged as the champion for other news publishers in his criticism of the evil content-stealing Google. Murdoch's claim, one shared by those who believe that content is king is that Google is “stealing” content not simply helping people find it.

The latest revelation in this paid versus free and internet versus newspaper battle comes from the Financial Times.  The story reads that  "Microsoft has had discussions with News Corp over a plan that would involve the media company’s being paid to “de-index” its news websites from Google, setting the scene for a search engine battle that could offer a ray of light to the newspaper industry."

But not only are Murdoch and Microsoft talking, but it appears that Microsoft has also approached other publishers to persuade them to remove their sites from Google’s search engine.  One website publisher approached by Microsoft said that the plan “puts enormous value on content if search engines are prepared to pay us to index with them”.

Microsoft is, of course, most interested in hurting Google.  If Microsoft creates a market where the search engines have to pay for content, Google's margins would change dramatically.  Certainly Google could be effective and profitable - but the massive profits that Google has seen would certainly shrink if they have to pay for content that is indexed in their engines.

Just a few days ago, Murdoch seemed to be tilting at windmills trying to save the newspaper industry.  But with Microsoft by his side, he might just be able to tilt a few windmills and slow the declines in the news industry.

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