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Rupert Murdoch Rants

5 minute read

Rupert Murdoch has been throwing off protectionist rants of late to pretty much anybody that will listen. On the one hand I admire the guy for building an empire and embracing the digital era, but on the other hand I wonder if he is losing his marbles.

In case you have not read my some previous articles about current day media moguls, I will repeat it here for you. Having a market share or a semi monopoly is a privilege not a right and this privilege/right is not exclusive, if you cannot adapt simply move on!

Rant One – Public Broadcasting

Rupert rolled out his son James on centre stage to deliver the MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival and launched into the BBC with an argument whose motives were was so transparent that the majority of comment outside his own networks were a collective ‘rolling of the eyes’ .

The BBC in the UK and the ABC in Australia are pretty much the only news sources (aside from perhaps SBS) that are free from commercial indulgences and interference, and for the majority of the populations of both countries, an indispensable part of our lives.

James other argument was that the private sector left to their own devices would be more innovative as the BBC. Murdoch added that the BBC stifled innovation as it made it difficult for the private sector to compete.

Would we have seen classics such as Faulty Towers, Black Adder, Top Gear, Chaser, Frontline, Summer Heights High, Kath & Kim without public broadcasting?

I am sure you ca think of dozens more classics that have come from the BBC/ABC over the years. I also consider the news and current affairs on these networks so far above that of the commercial networks that for the past few years on Australia, I rarely ever watched a commercial station – if not for sports!

James also attacked the news reporting of these networks with “Dumping free, state-sponsored news on the market makes it incredibly difficult for journalism to flourish on the internet. Yet it is essential for the future of independent journalism that a fair price can be charged for news to people who value it,” he said.

State Sponsored? You lost me there James.

In my opinion the attack is the first in a few deliberate stages and is aimed at the public perception of these organisations.

However, Rupert and James are seriously deluded if they think this attack will have any effect on public perception. The BBC in the UK costs the taxpayer around $140 pound per annum and I am sure the Australian taxpayer is slugged even less per person. Now if you look at local content in bothy countries, it is almost exclusively provided by these networks.

Rant Two – News Aggregators

Rupert has come out and continued his attack on the search engines and news aggregators, telling them the time has come to pay for News Ltd’s content. This shows a complete lack of understanding of how actual search engines and news aggregator sites work. Here is a little primer for Rupert.

Lesson- Search Engine/News Aggregator Primer

Rupert, please sit down and listen to me, no not in my chair, on the little one to the right of you. That’s right the one that is the same color as the Fire Engines.

Once upon a time there was a web page, and on that web page there were little snippets of code called ‘meta-tags’. These ‘meta-tags’ carried snippets of content to make it easier for search engines to find a page. Most programmers gave the page a ‘title’ and a ‘description’ and clever software like www.wordpress.org actually automate that process.

The really clever people with coke bottle glasses at search engines and news aggregator websites created little things that we called ‘crawler bots’ that crawled around and around the Interweb to grab the billions of new or updated articles/pages and indexed them on their sites and allows this content to be found by the millions of users each day.

If your content got selected by the user they clicked on the link and they got to your website and read that article or page. Your website had advertising on it and you made lots of money from those advertisers. The more popular your website got, the more money you made. It was like magic!

What if I don’t want to play?

Now Rupert, this is where all the incredibly gifted programmers out there on the Interweb came in. If you did not want your content indexed in search engines or on news aggregator companies like Google had a standard method by which you could prevent the ‘crawler bots’ from indexing your sites content. This way of you were not happy, you didn’t have to have your content indexed.

Now go out and play with all of the other media moguls in the pay tv tent.

Overarching Strategy

Rupert and friends perfect world would see no free public news, all bloggers discredited and everyone forced into paying for everything we read. Again after more than a digital decade we have a leader of one of the most successful companies in the world bereft of any idea on how to make the same kind of money in an almost exclusive online world.

Rupert, I like you mate, you have built one of the most successful organisations of the 20th century and for that you are in an elite minority, you have success and wealth beyond any of our wildest dreams but if bullying and protectionism is the only answer you have, then please step aside and let the next generation of digital companies take over.

Later this week I have the first of a two part series on Newspapers and how they can be saved.

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10 Comments

  • Craig
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 10:12 am 0Likes

    Rupert wants his cake and to eat it too with Google. If he doesn’t like Google accessing content on any of his web sites thats fine, one simple line of code in his robots.txt file on his web servers will stop it. But that’s not what he wants. He wants Google to drive traffic to his sites, and he wants Google to pay for the honor. What the! The cold hard reality is that for media companies to survive they have to get out of their ivory towers and reinvent their businesses as smaller and more agile and less dead tree dependent.

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 9:23 am 0Likes

    Great article Peter,

    I agree Rupert has absolutely no idea where his paper network is crumbling as against being on fire. With interest I have observed News ltd and Fairfax media debate that they are reviewing paid websites which simply will never work as all that will happen is that the online traffic will move to http://www.abc.net.au which just like the BBC will always be free. if you are going to charge for third party advertisers then you have to have traffic – lose the traffic and down comes the advertising revenues.

    Rupert should just retire gracefully as he is losing his relevance when he starts talking about online strategies that he simply fails to properly comprehend.

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 1:35 pm 0Likes

    It is strange, I have been writing articles on B2 since 2002 and I try everything in my powers to become more popular on Google, I have applied unsuccessfully dozens of times to be on Google News and would do anything to get the traffic.

    As my site grows in popularity, I might start adding more advertisers and at least cover some costs. But even if I was the bible for real estate agents and was so popular, I would still want to utilise the same services.

    Google may well just ask them if they want to be de-indexed. I am sure I know what the answer would be.

    Rupert needs ideas and from what I can tell – none are coming from inside the building.

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 2:27 pm 0Likes

    Google should cut them off for a month and see what they think about it then

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 2:33 pm 0Likes

    That would be hilarious if they binned them 🙂 But I still doubt they would even understand the repercussions if that happened. Rupert’s best days are now beyond him where he should retire and let the next generation lead his media empire. Then again he probably thinks MySpace is the next best thing on social networking 🙂

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 3:03 pm 0Likes

    It isn’t ?? 🙂

  • Nick
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 3:08 pm 0Likes

    Peter Ricci there are some tricks to drawing Google News’ attention to your site.
    See here: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/topic.py?topic=10078

    Putting their money where their mouth is would be so good.
    A little Disallow: / and Google would be forced to stop indexing their news.
    Then they could rule the world with their paid news!

    Or Google would just send everyone elsewhere, the world would move on, and News Ltd would crumble.

    Actually I quite like the last scenario. 🙂

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted October 13, 2009 at 9:59 pm 0Likes

    Thanks Nick, we finally got approved last week 🙂

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:47 pm 0Likes

    The news (no pun intended) just keeps getting worse for Rupert – “MySpace tanks as social networks soar”

    MySpace has lost more than half of its market share in the past year even though Australians have doubled the amount of time they spend on social networking sites in that period.

    New figures released by Nielsen this week revealed that Australians spent 1.6 million hours on social media sites in June this year, up from 800,000 hours a year earlier.

    The two major beneficiaries of the social media rush have been Facebook and Twitter, which, according to Nielsen, now have 8 million and 1.5 million unique Australian users, respectively.

    I guess he blames Google for this too! To read the article

    http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/myspace-tanks-as-social-networks-soar-20091014-gwxj.html

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted October 14, 2009 at 7:35 pm 0Likes

    I made a note a few years back that MySpace was just too much of a mess. most people just want to interact socially.

    Giving them the ability to add music, change the complete look and feel just ruins the experience of finding information. Look at Facebook, it is a completely structured system. This makes no sense and has no advantage.

    I know I can go to anyone’s page and know where to look for news, photos, videos personal information. MySpace has tried to address this but it is still just a mess – it didn’t see the threat early and didn’t respond when it did.

    Now the site is relegated to artists, musicians and the like, with perhaps 50% of its users rarely if ever using the site.

    Look at Facebook and Twitter, both completely structured systems. Both of course clueless how to make any money, but very popular.

    Actually they could make good money (by just offering premium like services such as extended versions, massive storage for photographs, vidoes etc in respect to Facebook) , but the problem is again, the shareholders want to make ridiculous amounts of money and will therefore ruin the experience with stupid ads everywhere.

    I hope both Twitter and Faqcebook just go down the extended paths offering upgrades to massive storage for native images and video storage etc. $30 per annum for 50% of users extra would reap a billion bucks a year.

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