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Printed newspapers? I give them 20 years, says Murdoch


By Noel Young | Correspondent

April 26, 2012 | 4 min read

Rupert Murdoch was in great form as discussed the future of the printed (newspaper) word at the Leveson inquiry.

Murdoch: likes a newspaper in his hands

"The day will come when we can't afford trucks and huge [printing] presses and we'll be purely electronic, " said the boss of the Times and Sun in London and The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post in the U.S.

However, he still liked to get a newspaper in his hands, preferring "the tactile experience of reading a newspaper or a book, so I think we'll have both [tablets and newsprint] for quite a while.

"Some people say 10 years, some say five. I'd be more inclined to say 20."

He said publishers were spending a lot of money "trying to -- and succeeding in -- presenting every word of our newspapers on modern tablets. We have to meet that challenge and try and turn it into an opportunity, but it's not easy.

"We have a lot of people working to make attractive versions of our newspapers. For instance, every single word of The Wall Street Journal -- and it's a challenge to get through it -- is there every day.

But we add more photographs, which are extraordinary quality on the iPad, and will get better."

Murdoch said News Corp had taken a stance against giving content away for free.

"We ask people to pay for it and if it's good enough, they will. Unfortunately Apple takes 30%, but that's another debate. The Times of London can be seen in any corner of the world, so maybe there's an opportunity there."

Of MailOnline, which provides content free , using only a limited amount of original journalism, he said, "They aggregate [news] and their advertising is rising but so are their costs. There are so many advertising opportunities that the rates stay very low,"

The Mail Online got to 45 million unique visitors in December 2011 , making it the world's biggest newspaper site, ahead of The New York Times, which had 44.8 million unique users that month.

But, said Murdoch, "the MailOnline is unrecognisable as part of the Daily Mail."

Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre " doesn't have a computer, he gets someone else to do it and they just steal. It's a great gossip site -- or bad, whichever way you look at it -- and comes right up to the barrier of what is fair use of other people's material.

"It has tens and tens of millions of followers around the world but there's no profit in it yet, according to their public statement, but their hope is for profit."

Of the Huffington Post, Murdoch said it "started pretty much as a political pamphlet with advertisers and has broadened itself quite cleverly. I don't believe they make a profit yet but they're read by many millions of people."

His last word on the complications of the digital world, was that every publisher was suffering at the hands of disruptive technologies when it came to regulation.

"I just beg for some clarity because it's really a very complex situation ... It's well above my pay grade."

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