News Corp moves to ‘second phase’ in paid-for online content

News Corporation is reassured by research it has undertaken into the willingness of readers to pay for content online, and has moved to the ‘second phase’ of its switch away from free content.

Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald, which is owned by a News Corp rival, reports that a memo has gone out to staff at the News Digital Media division saying that in Sydney “we are about to move into the second phase of the project”. It was sent by Richard Freudenstein, who was chief operating officer at BSkyB in the UK until 2006 and now runs NDM.

It comes just days after research conducted by Harris Interactive for Paid Content UK found that three quarters of online news readers would switch to an alternative free source if their favourite news site began charging for access and that only 5% said they would pay to continue reading their preferred source.

In the memo, Freudenstein says that the company is reassured by its own research. It said: “News [Corp] has conducted some audience research here in Australia and in the UK and US, which gives us confidence that, if we get the product and delivery system right, people will happily pay for news content online, on their computer, mobile, e-reader or other device.”

News Corp chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch has been at the forefront of the charge to make delivering news online a profitable business, as advertising-led models fail to deliver enough revenue.

News Corp plans to introduce charges for its properties across the globe. It owns newspapers such as The Sun and the News of the World in the UK; the Wall Street Journal and New York Post in the US, and The Australian and the Courier Mail in Australia.

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