Monday, 16 November 2009

Murdoch Relaxing at Home

Just came across this fascinating and insightful interview that Rupert Murdoch did with Sky News Australia around 10 days ago. It shows a very relaxed Murdoch with his 'guard slipping' on a few occasions.

I caught this from an IT website feed that was reacting to Murdoch talking about the possibility of preventing Google from indexing his news sites (a really bad idea). But there's some interesting stuff here with many political ramifications.

On the media front, he rails at the 'Scandal of the BBC' (at around 9.45mins) echoing his son James Murdoch's position on this but making it even clearer about how the Murdoch empire feels about competing in the News business with an organisation (the BBC) that can deliver for free. As he put it 'Give me some of the taxpayer money, and I will supply it for free too!'.

He did a lot of musing over the problem of DRM (digital rights management). One minute talking about taking legal action against the BBC and Google and then relaxing his stance almost immediately - probably realising some of the futility.

Basically Murdoch doesn't really get the Internet. He looks at it as another medium, like newsprint or TV or movies etc and he thinks the key to success and domination is to fight off the competition, stop-em nicking or re-purposing your stuff. He is thinking in the old way and not really comprehending the breadth and depth of change to all media that the Web represents. It overthrows many of the old assumptions, not just about the way that the media works, but how the whole world works now.

There was a very interesting choice of language at approx 22mins when he was talking about the 'credit crunch' and the near collapse of the banking system. He was talking about the point at which the supply of easy money by the Fed had reached a point where the bubble, and note this is what he says - 'Had to be pricked'.

Hmm. Interesting. And there's me and the vast majority of the rest of the world thinking the bubble burst - it just got to a point where it got to a size that it just popped - all by itself. Apparently it didn't - it was pricked because it had to be. I wonder who did that then?

There's a great piece when he is questioned about the amount of pressure he applies to his Editors. You can see him struggling with a desire to be honest but then just not answering the question.

And finally there's a fascinating piece at about 33 minutes when he talks with 'regret' about the Sun not supporting his 'friend' Gordon Brown. I can just imagine how difficult it must have been to get an agreement between him and James Murdoch to make this move - and it explains why Mandleson seemed to be reeling from the news back at the Labour conference. It was clearly a truly shocking betrayal of the relationship that had gone before.

All the Murdochs should think about the Market Research that Apple did a while back. They found that people who 'illegally' share files with each other actually buy more content than people who don't 'illegally' share files but do use the Internet to a similar extent.. So, one simple interpretation from this is that if you sell content - music, movies, tv shows, news - you really should make a lot of stuff 'freely available' in order to drive sales of the stuff that people want - that is the basic point.

What you should avoid is simply thinking that until people pay you a penny they get nothing. You can't 'lock in' your market like that. And you shouldn't try lobbying political parties to try and create that circumstance - because it's absolutely terrible for democracy and it's also very bad for business.

So in summary - Do I think that a man who has spent has his entire career in the media business and built an unrivalled global empire has less of an idea about the way forward than I do?

Hmm. gulp.

Well in this particular instance - Yep.


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