ACMA: ABC and BBC may hamper Murdoch’s paid content model

acma_logoA new report from the government’s ‘s media industry watchdog is sceptical about whether newspaper owners will be able to make similar profits online in the face of competition from non-commercial news providers such as the ABC and BBC.

The report from the Australian Communications and Media Authority – Changing business models in the Australian communications and media sectors: Challenges and response strategies – highlights the decline of newspaper readership.  

Although it flags up the commercial possibilities of paid news applications such as iPad apps, ACMA questions whether consumers are willing to pay. It said: “In 2010, Rupert Murdoch announced that the introduction of the Apple iPad would also assist in the pay-per-view model, saying it was a device that would assist in the development of pay walls. Commentators have also highlighted that the strength of an application-only based news distribution model is that it will potentially enable greater control of the publication and distribution of news and other content.”

But the ACMA report goes on to say:

“The future success of any user pays strategy for online news content is heavily dependent on consumers’ willingness to pay for online news formerly accessed for free and mass adoption of these services. However, on the basis of available evidence relating to Australia, the majority of adult internet users have not demonstrated a willingness to date to pay to access news online.

“While this may change if free online news content is restricted, the likelihood of such a development occurring needs to be considered in the context of major global news players, such as the BBC’s global news service and domestic national and regional news providers such as the ABC within Australia, remaining committed to the provision of free access to online news services and the expansion of those services to take into account emerging digital platforms and consumer devices.”

The report also points to the decline of readership of newspapers and rise of the use of the web as a source of news by those who are online:


Source: Roy Morgan/ ACMA

And it also highlights the multiple sources of online news content including overseas-based sites such as the BBC.


Source: ACMA/ Nielsen online. Data for June 2010

Those who argue that the issue of paid content should be treated with an open mind, point out that what people answer in a survey about their intentions would not necessarily be replicated once a product has been launched and marketed.

A spokesman for Murdoch’s News Ltd told Mumbrella: “Our research suggests that if we deliver relevant content in a time and manner that is convenient to people’s lifestyles, then they will be willing to pay. The fact that many thousands of people are subscribing to our newspaper iPad apps, when all the content – and more – is currently available for free on the same device, supports this view.”


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