Rupert Murdoch has announced today that his newspapers websites are to become subscription sites, charging a fee, and will no longer be free. Whilst this might generate some cash, it is going to drastically affect the influence his companies have on the internet.
For starters, the vast majority of people will not pay for news on the internet. If you want free news you can go to the BBC website (I know we pay a license fee but the website is free for everyone to use) or any other number of free to read sites. Murdoch believes other papers will follow his lead. Personally I don't think they will and those that don't will have a greater market share, more readers and more influence.
Then there is the issue of advertising. Advertisers are going to be less inclined to place adverts with Murdoch's papers if they have less of a market share. This will mean more money for his rivals and less for his subscription titles.
Then there is the issue of influence. Murdoch has an unparallelled amount of influence in the UK at the moment. His papers can make or break politicians and political parties. Yet with the growth of new media, he seems to be willing to let this go and diminish his influence.
The world, it seems, is moving on and away from newspapers. More and more young people expect things on the internet to be free. Yet the Murdoch's seem to thing that they can roll out a similar policy to that which works for SKY on to newspapers. The difference is that SKY has control of the pay TV market with very few and much smaller rivals. Newspapers and the internet are very different things.
As I see it I welcome the news from Murdoch today. Anything that diminishes his ability to manipulate our political system and moves his titles to the periphery has got to be good.