Rupert Murdoch has had his first victory over Google today as the online aggregator has agreed to limit the amount of news information accessible free of charge.
This will potentially lead to an open door for other news agencies to begin charging for news content but will also be of great concern to other organisations such as the BBC which have recently been in the sights of News International.
It has been reported that Murdoch was potentially doing a deal with Bing – Microsoft’s Google equivalent – which would have ensured that news sites would receive extra revenue as Bing would pay to feature news content on its site. According to the BBC, Google seems to have backed down under this threat meaning that users will no longer be able to go around the pay-wall of news sites that already have pay per view content, such as the FT. Users will only have the option to click five stories a day from the single news site. On the sixth click, users will be forced to the pay-wall page.
At the moment, this probably won’t affect users viewing the majority of NewsCorp and News International articles, including the Sun and the Times, as they are still free. However, it does mean significant changes when Murdoch brings in the pay per view system in the next couple of years.
Google had to take action, but was caving the right action to take? Money-wise, they would be able to take on NewsCorp, but it was always a question of would they want to risk going up against the power of someone like Murdoch?
Obviously, Google has caved to the threats of NewsCorp blocking its content to Google and only allowing information to be shown through Bing. Murdoch obviously owns an enormous amount of news copy across the world and it would be a grand coup for Bing to suddenly get all of the content.
It is a concern for users who regularly access news content and it is also a concern for sites and organisations such as the BBC, which are under attack from News International. What this will mean in practice is yet to be seen, but while they won’t be publicly concerned, it is likely that they will be following this latest news with a significant amount of interest.