James Murdoch: Entertainment will be more important than journalism

News Corp boss for Europe and Asia James Murdoch has said that journalism won’t play as a big a role in his group’s future as entertainment.

He told an investor conference in Barcelona: “In the business of ideas, which is the business that we are in, we do think journalism plays a role, and we do think there are business models there that will make a lot of sense, albeit perhaps not at the scale of some of our broadcasting businesses and other entertainment businesses”, Reuters reports.

“Is it going to be as big a role? No,” he said.

He said: “Structurally, television is vastly more profitable and a big opportunity…Our digital activities, we are going to push them harder but we are actually going to be charging a premium price for them.”

James’ boss, father Rupert, has pledged to start charging for content on all his newspaper titles’ websites.

On this subject Murdoch junior said, according to the Wall Street Journal: “We invest quite a lot in our journalism, we’re very proud of it, we think it has great quality and great value, and we think that we should be charging a fair price for it, both to customers but also to other firms who might want to take it to customers in whatever way.

“We think that there’s a very exciting market place, potentially a wholesale market place for digital journalism that we’ll be developing.”

Earlier this month Murdoch senior revealed in a Sky News Australia interview that he was considering blocking Google from being able to search his websites.

“I think we’ve been asleep,” he said. “It costs us a lot of money to put together good newspapers and good content. They’re very happy to pay for it when they buy a newspaper, and I think when they read it elsewhere they’re going to have to pay. Not huge sums.”

Google’s UK director Matt Brittin hit back this week at the Society of Editors conference in Stansted.

He said: “Does Google need news content to survive? No. If you look at the amount of advertising we serve around news content in Google News it’s zero.

“In Google search, when you search for news stories, there is almost never any advertising round it. Economically it’s not a big part of how we generate revenue.”

He added: ‘The users of the internet, what you call your readership, expect to find quality content online.

“One of the reason we are working with a lot of publishers to help them have their content found in the right way is because we believe the internet needs to have quality content on it. We are working with many publishers to try and support that.

“The value of news to consumers is all about finding great content online, so it’s important to us that great journalism makes that transition from print to being multi-channel.”

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