Posts Tagged: news international

Murdoch, I-Level and… Claudine dominate media in 2010

Vince Cable pictured in The Independent

In terms of
commercial media, 2010 was always going to be dominated by one man and one
company: Rupert Murdoch, News Corporation.

From the
outset we expected paywalls and bundled content offerings (Alesia) to be the
order of the day, but no one could have foreseen just where we find ourselves

Read more on Murdoch, I-Level and… Claudine dominate media in 2010…

Do advertisers want to be in Times paywall club?

Hollywood’s take on the relentless rise of Facebook in The Social
Network is set to pass a milestone of its own this week, when UK box office
takings top £10 million.

It’s still got some way to go to push 2009 blockbuster Avatar (£90m), but
double-digit millions is good going for any film in little old Blighty.

Fiction or not, the fact that David Fincher’s simple and rather contrived plot
makes a plausible story says something about the value people place – or at
least imagine others place – on being seen to be in the right club.
The desire to be part of the right crowd is presented as the driving force
behind Facebook’s real-life founder Mark Zuckerberg, and it got me thinking
about News International’s paywall experiment.

It’s been less than three weeks since News
International offered the first hint as to the impact its online subscription
strategy is having on sites for the Times and Sunday Times
, and plenty of
questions remain.

Understandably there’s been frustration at the lack of transparency regarding
the actual number of paying subscribers.

Read more on Do advertisers want to be in Times paywall club?…

News Int paywall creates around 200,000 digital sales

months of speculation, News International has finally unveiled figures for its
paywall experiment at The Times and the Sunday Times websites;
it has generated
105,000 digital-only sales and a further 100,000 print subscribers have activated
their digital accounts, since July.

Read more on News Int paywall creates around 200,000 digital sales…

Why News Corp really pulled the plug on Project Alesia

News Corporation has been
forced to abandon plans for its eagerly anticipated digital news platform, part
of the company’s so called ‘Project Alesia’ initiative, citing runaway costs.

As we revealed this morning, bean-counters at Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate
have decided to pull the plug on the year-long activity when it was
expected to be finalised.

The decision is said to be
absolute: this is not a delay, or grand standing or being placed on hold; this
an entire, dedicated News Corp UK
operation being dismantled just days before a product was due to go to market.

So what’s going on at
the media conglomerate?

Read more on Why News Corp really pulled the plug on Project Alesia…

The Observer becomes market leader in one f’ing ranking

The Observer might be battling sluggish circulations since its revamp in February, down 21% year on year in last ABCs, but the Sunday paper is the undisputed leader when it comes to four-letter abuse and general swearing.

Much to the disgust of The Observer’s readers’ editor, Stephen Pritchard, up to the early August 2010, the Sunday paper has published 272 articles with the word “f*ck” and 13 using the word “c*nt”. [Belated apologies for those of you with a sensitive disposition, but you’re in the wrong business.]

In contrast, the Independent on Sunday ran 122 pieces containing “f*ck” and 10 “c*nt”, while the Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph were both profanity-free, in accordance with their editorial guidelines.

Following the chart-topping performance, Pritchard takes some solace in the fact these figures nevertheless represent a vast improvement on the previous before, when The Observer turned the air blue by printing “f*ck” 293 times and “c*nt” 25.

The relative clean-up of the newspaper’s copy is one of the few positive side-effects of this year’s staff cull, which resulted in the closure of the three monthly magazines, Observer Woman, Sport Monthly and Music Monthly.

It would appear the paper still has some way to go to appease some of its less liberal contingent though. Pritchard himself admits: “…I have a visceral dislike of seeing these words in the pages of a newspaper that is read by all ages.

“I don’t go along with the argument that the Observer is a grown-up newspaper for grown-up people. Everything we write appears on the internet and is accessible, free, to anyone, whether they are nine or 90…

“I would far rather we adopted the policy of some of our rivals and expunged swearing entirely.”

Well quite Stephen. But before you get too green-eyed, do bear in mind that if you were working at rival News International, your content would be neither accessible or free, but rather hidden behind a paywall.

Read more on The Observer becomes market leader in one f’ing ranking…

Martin Sorrell scores own goal with bad football metaphors

The World
Cup is over; Spain
and their total football were the worthy winners, hurrah! Now can we all drop
the bad football analogies and get back in the game?

Read more on Martin Sorrell scores own goal with bad football metaphors…

Are we all in the brown stuff if Times paywall fails?

For a media
hack like me, it’s had more twists and turns and dragged out longer than
the final series of Lost; and the budget-busting climax is still yet to come.

This week’s launch of the repurposed
websites for The Times and now standalone Sunday Times are nothing short of a
landmark in the evolution of the British Press industry.

It is the first major step on the
path to News International’s phased introduction of online paywalls. The idea of charging people to
access content online was first aired by Rupert Murdoch last summer, and the
debate over the viability of the model has been raging ever since.

Erecting paywalls around daily
news may yet prove to be “completely antithetical” to the way the web works, as eloquently expressed by The Guardian’s editor Alan Rusbridger.

His position appeared to be bolstered by research published this week which found that most consumers (91%) would be
unwilling to pay £1 a day or £2 a week to access the Times Online. Only 5% said they would pay £2 for a week’s digital
subscription, although a further
4% said they would pay £1 for a day’s access.

And it was not just The Times that the public would be unwilling
to pay for. Give or take
one or two percentage points, the proportion unwilling to pay was the same for
The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and The Independent.

Meanwhile, speaking at last month’s PPA Magazine Conference, Stevie Spring, the chief
executive of Future, noted that Murdoch’s paywalls “break the basic rules of

Her basic premise
is that the world is moving towards two types of content-led product – ‘access-only’ and
what she termed “collectable artefacts” (like printed magazines) – with the web largely falling into the access-only camp, meaning people
will view the content if they can but rarely find it unique enough, or essential enough, to
pay for.

News International’s
management team are acutely aware of the very real dangers of slipping into a
“vault of darkness”
once payment is required, but are ploughing on

“If it doesn’t work
than I’m in the sh*t,” joked News
Int’s commercial chief Paul Hayes
at a Brand Media event last week.
Reminding me of the old adage ‘many a true word spoken in jest’.

But the buck doesn’t stop
with Hayes, or even News International.

It’s hold your breath time for thousands working in the news business, and the many more studying on the many
oversubscribed journalism courses across the country.

Just yesterday outgoing chief executive Carolyn McCann warned of pre-tax losses at Guardian Media Group for the 12 months to March will be larger than the £90m plummet a year earlier.

Quality journalism
money and it is significant that Guardian
News & Media’s MD Tim Brooks refused to rule out following Murdoch

if it proves successful.

I’m mindful that by the time the main protagonists finally realised how Lost was to going to play out, they discovered they were already dead. Let’s hope the press industry doesn’t leave it so long.

Read more on Are we all in the brown stuff if Times paywall fails?…

Murdoch forces Sorrell to make U-turn over paid-content


Sorrell, chief executive of WPP and one of adland’s best known soothsayers, has
dramatically revised his stance on the viability of publishers charging for
content online following comments from the quintessential newspaper man, Rupert

Speaking at an industry event
in Greece last week
, The Daily Telegraph reports an irrepressible Sorrell,
as saying: “[Rupert] Murdoch is absolutely correct to try and get people
paying for content – it is critical for traditional media businesses as there
is not enough advertising to support these models anymore.

“Getting consumers to pay for content they value is key. We have to find
those areas.”

Such sentiments will be music to the ears of those operating in the embattled
newspaper sector, which according to Sorrell’s own media investment arm GroupM
is expected to see advertising revenue plummet 26% in the UK
this year.

But such apparent support for online pay-walls flies in the face of Sorrell’s
own vision of the future, announced less than 10 months earlier.

Addressing an international
advertising event in January
, there could be no mistaking what the WPP
leader thought about the position traditional publishers now find themselves
in, or his reservations about charging for web content.

“Some of the structural changes we’re seeing taking place in the
[newspaper] industry, particularly in America, the failure and bankruptcy and
reorganisation of these [publishing] companies is going to continue. And
there’s no way of stopping it, because we’ve given it away for free,” he

“The seeds of this problem were sown when the people who created the new
media industry, probably in the early nineties, decided – rightly from the
consumers point of view I have to say – to give it away for nothing.

“It’s impossible actually now to take it up. You can start up here [high]
and take your pricing down, but you can’t start there [free] and start moving
it up.”

It appears News Corp’s
venerable leader’s commitment to “charge for all our news websites”
buoyed by thriving online subs at the Wall Street Journal, has led Sorrell to
change his mind.

It marks the latest backtrack in what has been a tricky year for WPP’s famous
crystal ball-gazer, who, lest we forget, is responsible for group billings of
more than $80 billion, or around a third of all the world’s measured media

At the same event in January, Sorrell predicted “a flat year” for the
global ad market in 2009, adding reassuringly: “We’re not looking at the
Armageddon or the Apocalypse Now that analysts and media followers are

“We don’t see it as bad as Goldman and others who talk about -5, I see -10
from [some quarters] which seems somewhat strange.”

Nine long months, a series of forecast revisions, and thousands of redundancies
later, and Sorrell now accepts a drop of 5.5% is the most likely outcome.

But then it’s been one of those years; also at the IAA event in January, media
execs were expressing incredulity at the suggestion a former Russian spy was
being bandied around as a potential buyer for London’s
Evening Standard.

Read more on Murdoch forces Sorrell to make U-turn over paid-content…

It’s the Sun wot jumped on the bandwagon

And so it comes to pass, News International’s most popular
daily newspaper The Sun has declared its allegiance to David Cameron’s Tories.

The Sun tells its readers in no uncertain terms today to vote
at the next election, effectively ending 12 years and 7 months of
“support”, for the Labour Party.

Read more on It’s the Sun wot jumped on the bandwagon…

September’s here, it’s time to quit

‘The summer’s over, I’ve had time to think about it, I

want to quit,’ appears to be the mantra being followed by many high-profile media execs this month.

Recession or not, September has lived up to its billing as the month which gets headhunters hearts racing.

Today’s news that Andy Brent, group brand marketing director at BSkyB, has parted company with the pay-TV broadcaster just one year into the job, has taken many by surprise.

His departure, confirmed in an email by Jeremy Darroch, BSkyB’s chief executive, leaves a gapping hole in the management of the media and broadcasting group’s £100m plus marketing operations.

You can bet on Brent resurfacing somewhere soon.

But as unexpected as his exit is, it’s far from unusual this month. Also on the move is News International’s chief marketing officer Jeremy Schwartz, who walked out less than nine months into the top marketing role.

Let’s remember it took News Int almost six months to find Schwartz for its first overarching CMO role for The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun, and News of The World, so it seems safe to assume News Int’s newly promoted chief executive Rebekah Brooks nee Wade was less than convinced.

The newspaper publisher is now expected to move back to its tried and tested model of having individual marketing directors responsible for each title.

Elsewhere, advertising veteran’s Daryl Fielding’s brief foray into newspapers ended abruptly on Monday, and Simon Davies is already primed to take over the role of commercial director of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.

Despite best intentions, sometimes, things just don’t work out – ask outgoing PPA chief executive Jonathan Shephard, who has attracted widespread criticism for his 18 month spell at the association for consumer and B2B magazines.

His decision to cull the association’s events and marketing activities during what is arguably the most challenging time the magazine industry has ever faced, didn’t go down too well with many publishing members.

And Shephard’s own unique style of management and communication didn’t appear to help his cause, with many vocally against him from the outset.

Read more on September’s here, it’s time to quit…