'Rupert Murdoch to link up with Google': Rupert Murdoch

Why isn’t this all over the blogosphere? Rupert Murdoch gave a lengthy interview to BBC Radio Five Live’s Jeff Randall on Sunday evening; you can download it in full from here. Below, I’ve transcribed the chunk about the internet business, which starts about 11 and a half minutes in.
Isn’t your empire about to be run over by the digital age? Are the likes of Google going to get you?
Not at all. I think we’ll probably be doing things with Google.
Really? Like what?
I’ve just had a lot of people at the Consumer Electronics Show, which is the biggest event of the year in America, when everyone shows off all their new inventions, and so on. There’s going to be so many different ways to look at a movie, read a newspaper or whatever. I think we’re on the eve, you know, of an era – a golden age for media. These, all these wonderful inventions are nothing if you can’t put something onto them. You’ve got to have content, and that’s what our business is: creating, or reporting news, and creating entertainment. And I think we’ve got to do more of it, and take advantage of these great opportunities ahead of us.

But the world, the internet is just beginning. It’s really only taking off now, with broadband, which is a few tens of millions maybe, a hundred or two hundred million people at most in the world, able to get it. In twenty years time, everybody in the world is going to be able to get broadband, and express themselves on it. And there’ll be a vast market for successful creators of popular content.
You had a go at buying internet businesses in the late 90s, it didn’t work, but you’re buying again now, aren’t you. You’ve spent a lot of money buying up two or three internet businesses. Why are you buying and not starting?
Well, we’re starting too. We’ve started sites for all our newspapers, for our sports services, and you’ll see great changes in those sites over the next few months. But we did buy one extraordinary thing called, uh, My… My Space, which is really a community site for young people. And when we first looked at it, and signed up for it, there were 24 million people signed. Today, there’s 50 million people on it. It’s going like a fire around the country. And it’s a very simple thing. Just people talking to each other, and making friends, sharing interests.
How do you make money from that?
Selling advertising. It carries advertising with it.
You see, I get your argument about content being king. In the end you can own all the distribution channels in the world; you’ve got to have something to put on it. But you know, dare I say it, here’s your share price chart, over the last two years… and it’s not that vibrant. It seems to me, big investors don’t quite believe. They want the new gizmos, they want the whizzy, whizzy new companies. They don’t believe in old media.
That’s quite true. I mean, in the last three years I think we’ve increased our profit twenty per cent every year. We’ve had a wonderful run. And our share price hasn’t moved a cent. In fact, it probably might have moved down a little bit.
Against the trend?
Not against other – yes, but not against Disney or our major sort of competitors. Uh – I think there’s an instinctive feeling in the market that there’s great change coming, and they don’t know who’s going to be able to handle it, take advantage of it. And they’re rather like sheep; they all run in one direction at the same time. They’ll be back.
So you feel it’s just a question of fashion? At the moment, NewsCorp is out of fashion; it’ll come back.
That’s right.
Well, if it is to come back…
I think that goes for our competitors too. In… in traditional media.
What about the businesses that are worrying investors, um, traditional businesses like newspapers. The last time you said anything publicly about Britain’s newspaper industry, you sounded pretty negative. Is it in terminal decline? Will there be one in ten years?
I think newspapers in this country are better than they have ever been, better journalism, and they’re doing pretty well. You could say that some of their circulations are declining, but if you look at the full reach, if you add their printed circulation to their internet circulation, where they’re fully on, they’re probably extending their reach a bit, if anything.
Do you see that trend continuing, so maybe ten, fifteen years down the line, I’ll be reading The Times and The Sunday Times, but I’ll be reading it on screen? I just won’t be carrying a paper?
I think it’s entirely possible. I’m sure it’ll still be available on paper, it won’t happen that fast. But you’ll be able to – for instance, I’m sure you can have a tablet beside your bed, and you subscribe to the paper, and it’ll come there wirelessly, and you’ve gotta pick it up, and read every page of the paper, on an electronic or battery-driven tablet. That sort of thing will happen. You may choose to read the paper that way; or you may have a more old-fashioned idea about it, or you may have it read to you on a iPod-type thing, which you can stick into your car as you drive to work in the morning.

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