News Corp., Microsoft Weigh Tie-Up
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Rupert Murdoch has accused Google of poaching content. Now there are reports that Murdoch's News Corp. may block Google searches from finding things on News Corp. sites. Those sites include The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and Fox News. All that content would only be searchable on Bing, Microsoft's search engine, and Microsoft would pay for the privilege.
NPR's Laura Sydell reports.
LAURA SYDELL: The Evangelists of free content on the Internet aren't mincing words about Rupert Murdoch's idea.
Professor JEFF JARVIS (Director, Interactive Journalism Program, City University of New York): It's suicidal.
SYDELL: Jeff Jarvis directs the Interactive Journalism Program at the City University of New York.
Prof. JARVIS: If this comes off, I think that it's a double play for Google because News Corp. will lose traffic and audience, and Microsoft will lose money.
SYDELL: The reported deal would require Microsoft to pay News Corp. for access to News Corp. content, which includes Fox News and The Wall Street Journal. But Microsoft is in its own battle with Google. Google has about 60 percent of all search queries; Microsoft's Bing only about 10 percent.
Shar VanBoskirk is an analyst with Forrester Research.
Ms. SHAR VANBOSKIRK (Analyst, Forrester Research): Microsoft's biggest challenge right now is simply driving more traffic to their search engine. So what they want is to use this News Corp. content to try to get more users to come to Bing.
SYDELL: More users will allow Microsoft to charge more for ads on Bing. And for News Corp., the deal might help create a new model to pay for news content. It's no secret that the Web hasn't been good for news producers. Although Google may drive plenty of traffic to news Web sites, news organizations haven't been able to turn them into profits.
Rick Edmonds is with the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit journalism think tank.
Mr. RICK EDMONDS (Poynter Institute): The online ad revenue has not been terribly healthy lately. And, in fact, the rates are very soft, have been going down mostly for the last 18 months.
SYDELL: Edmonds thinks it's possible that people who are interested in content from The Wall Street Journal, Fox, or even some of News Corp's entertainment properties like "American Idol," would leave Google and switch over to Bing to find it. Edmonds thinks skeptics like journalism professor Jarvis are a little too convinced the content isn't worth money.
Jarvis is among the technorati whose rallying cry is that information wants to be free. Of course, it will still be free to the people who search on Bing. But analyst VanBoskirk isn't certain that News Corp's content will be enough of a draw to get people to switch to Bing.
Ms. VanBOSKIRK: Consumers don't care enough about the origins of content because content today is plentiful and it's cheap, and you can pretty much get it, you know, in a number of different means.
SYDELL: But there are also rumors that other major media organizations are talking to Microsoft. Edmonds of the Poynter Institute doesn't think it's crazy to imagine that news consumers would switch their habits, at least partially, to another search engine to find information they trust.
Laura Sydell, NPR News.