Murdoch may remove newspapers' stories from Google in row over fees


RUPERT MURDOCH has underlined his determination to make the internet pay by promising to remove his newspapers’ stories from Google.

The chairman and chief executive of News Corporation said his papers, which include the London Timesand the Wall Street Journal, would probably cut themselves off from Google once they started to charge online.

In an interview with Sky News Australia, Mr Murdoch was asked why, given his attacks on Google for “stealing” the company’s content, News Corp had not decided to remove its websites from Google’s search indices.

“I think we will, but that’s when we start charging,” he said. “We do it already with the Wall Street Journal. We have a wall, but it’s not right to the ceiling.”

At the moment, papers such as the Times– in common with the majority of online papers – rely on Google and other search engines to drive traffic and advertising revenues. As well as selling their own advertising, many papers take a share of the revenues derived from advertisements sold by Google around their content.

Mr Murdoch – who last week admitted his plans to charge for content were behind schedule – has accused Google and other web companies of benefiting from newspapers’ content without having to pay for it.

“The people who simply just pick up everything and run with it – steal our stories. They just take them without payment,” he said.

A spokesman for Google said the company’s aggregation service, Google News, and its web search were a “tremendous source of promotion” that were consistent with copyright law.

“News organisations are in complete control over whether and how much of their content appears in search results. If they tell us not to include it, we don’t. And if publishers want their content to be removed from Google News specifically, all they need to do is tell us.”

Mr Murdoch broadened his attack to include broadcasters such as the BBC and Australia’s ABC. “If you look at them, most of their stuff is stolen from the newspapers now, and we’ll be suing them for copyright. They’ll have to spend a lot more money on a lot more reporters to cover the world when they can’t steal from newspapers.”

But he said it was unlikely to come to court: “They know the law, they’ll adapt.”

Michael Wolff, author of The Man Who Owns the News, a biography of Mr Murdoch, said his real agenda was to protect his newspapers. “I continue to think what he has in mind here is to leave the internet. It’s not about Rupert Murdoch building a business online – he wants to direct people who are interested in his content to the original source, which is paper . . . He sees the online world as a haemorrhage of News Corp’s newspaper readership.”

Mr Murdoch said he regretted that his British papers had stopped supporting British prime minister Gordon Brown. In September, the Sun switched its allegiance from Labour to the Conservatives after 12 years. “The editors in Britain for instance have turned very much against Gordon Brown, who is a friend of mine. I regret it,” he said.

“He has been an unlucky man. But you know, the end of 13 years of one-party rule, the idea of change is probably good.”

He also rejected any suggestion that he was thinking of retirement, but conceded he could not continue running News Corp indefinitely. He said he was sure one of his children would emerge as his successor. – ( Guardianservice)