Rupert Murdoch: Charging for web news access delayed

Rupert Murdoch’s plan start charging for access to all News Corporation‘s newspaper websites may be delayed beyond their planned introduction next June.

The chairman and chief executive of News Corp said last night while plans were still moving ahead the tight deadline the company had set itself to start charging for UK newspapers sites, including the Times, the Sun and the soon-to-be launched Sunday Times, was slipping.

He said: “We are working all very, very hard at it but I wouldn’t promise that we’re going to meet that date. It’s a work in progress and there’s a huge amount of work going on…not just with our sites but with other people.”

Asked by reporters what was causing the delay in introducing the charges, Murdoch replied, “everything.”

The admission by Murdoch came as News Corp reported a dramatic drop in income from its newspaper business. In the three months to September it fell to just $25m in from $134m in the same period a year ago.

News International, Murdoch’s UK newspaper publishing business, reported an advertising revenue fall of 15 per cent and a drop in circulation sales of six per cent year on year during the quarter.

Overall, News Corp reported that revenue fell 4.2 per cent to $7.2bn but an 11 per cent increase in profits to $571m for the three months to September, largely as a result of cost-cutting in News Corp’s businesses and aided by increased profitability at film studio Twentieth Century Fox which was up 55 per cent to $391m which helped offset the huge fall in newspaper revenue.

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