Google CEO Says Charging For Content May Not Work

Armen Hareyan's picture

Speaking to a group of British broadcasting executives via video link, Google's CEO Eric Schmidt said that it will be hard for the publishers to charge for online content. He questioned Rupert Murdoch's plans to start charging for online content.

Murdoch in August said that he may introduce a new online pay plan that would charge the general audiences for online content. Murdoch owns New York Post and Britain's Sun as well as The London Times among other news outlets. He said the new pay plan will start in the middle of 2010.

Google's CEO questioned charging for content online and said that in general these models have not worked. However, he agreed that the plan may work for niche content providers such as business news. But hardly it will work for other types of general news.

Murdoch's Wall Street Journal is one of the few newspapers that still charges for its online business news content. However, some of the content is free. Murdoch bought WSJ last year.

Schmidt said there is so much free news online and free content "that the marginal value of paying is not justified based on the incremental value of quantity." He said for specific types of news you can do it, but for general news it may not work.

Indeed, would you pay to read a story about a celebrity when you can find the same news in thousands of blogs or in Twitter almost immediately. Even if the top 20 U.S. newspapers start charging for their online content I believe there still will remain thousands of alternatives that will not force users to pay for online news.

It may be another question if you tell that there won't be advertising on those pages. Some minority will probably agree to that. However, will there be enough quantity to justify the fact of missing the majority and showing advertising.

Written by Armen Hareyan
Publisher of

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