News Corporation chief executive, Rupert Murdoch, was optimistic for the future when he said that US advertising markets are “not yet back to 2007 but very much better than three or four months ago”.
Speaking at a media conference, sponsored by Goldman Sachs, Murdoch also announced that the Wall Street Journal will charge for mobile content on Blackberrys and iPhones, charging $1 per week to subscribers and $2 for non-newspaper subscribers for access to the mobile version.
This news comes weeks after he announced that the News Corporation-owned UK papers, The Times, Sun and News of the World, are all to charge for online content by next summer.
Murdoch said: “News is more valuable than it has ever been.”
He also said that although advertising revenue is down, the situation is getting better every week.
“It’s been a very uncomfortable ride from last November through to July when we started to see a little bit of movement. I’m not an economist, but my guess is that the consensus is about right – we’re going to get a nice bump and then we’ll settle to a fairly slow recovery.”
He said he was pleased his company had not listened to advice from financial analysts who were convincing the company to buy back shares and take on debts.
“A lot of companies would listen to ‘buy, buy back’ and hedge funds would come around saying ‘buy back’. If we listened to them we’d be billions of dollars more in debt today and they would’ve gone off with nice fat profits. We’re very happy we hung on.”
Murdoch also repeated his skepticism about the Amazon Kindle reader, saying that he didn’t think it is a “good experience” but adding “it is a wonderful machine to read books”.
The News Corporation chief was more positive about a new Sony mobile reading device, to be released at Christmas, hinting at a possible partnership, saying: “we’ll do everything we can to drive that one”.
Murdoch said he envisaged a time, in 20 or 30 years, when more people will buy their news on portable reading panels than buying it on “crushed trees”.
“Then we’re going to have no paper, no printing plants, no unions. It’s going to be just a great future.”