News Corp. (NYSE: NWS) Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch told attendees at The Cable Show that the company is investing in a device with four-color capabilities and a larger screen than the Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) Kindle- at least that's what he said. But asked for details following the session, a News Corp. spokeswoman said the idea was "very exploratory." Is there an investment in a company? No.
The Kindle and four-color device were among the ideas Murdoch raised in a brief exchange with Fox News's Neal Cavuto about the future of newspapers following a lengthy discussion about global economics and politics. Murdoch waved off the possible closing of the San Francisco Chronicle as a harbinger of newspaper doom: "It's sad but let's face it: It's a pretty small area. If you look at the Bay Area, it's huge" and other papers are there like the San Jose Mercury News. ... San Francisco's a bit weird."
But Murdoch isn't dismissing the problems. "People are getting used to getting everything on the net for nothing. That's going to have to change somehow." One change would the relationship with Google and others: "Should we be allowing Google to steal all our copyrights? Not just Google (NSDQ: GOOG). I think if you've got a brand like the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal you don't have to do that."
Speaking of the NYT, Murdoch called NYTimes.com a "a very, very good website, employing 300 people" with ad rates that are too low and to his thinking can't be raised because the inventory is doubling every year." Then there are the classifieds, "a gold river draining away that probably will be gone forever." How would the NYT do with a WSJ model that includes subscriptions? "I think they'd do fairly well." Of course, it's "no trouble" for a financial paper "with the history of the Journal" to charge $60-100 a year for the website. WSJ.com has more than 1 million subs, he noted, and that's not a "gold mine."
By Staci D. Kramer