Yesterday during News Corp.’s fourth quarter and year-end earning conference call, CEO Rupert Murdoch said the Web sites for his newspapers, which include The New York Post, would start to follow a pay model similar to the Wall Street Journal‘s in the coming year.
“The digital revolution has created many new and inexpensive ways of distribution,” Murdoch said. The Journal, which is also owned by News Corp., has had success with its pay model by giving away some information for free and displaying the first few paragraphs of certain stories to non-subscribers, but requiring readers to sign in for access to the rest.
This model seems to work for the Journal because the quality of its work is respected by the business community and readers in general, so they are willing to pay rather than lose access to the paper’s information and insight. But, will this model translate to News Corp.’s other properties like the Post, which is best known for its punning front cover headlines and Page Six gossip column?
Read on for earnings release details
As for its earnings report, News Corp. reported full year adjusted operating income of $3.6 billion, a 32.5% decrease from a year ago. For the fourth quarter, the company posted a $203 million loss, compared with earnings of $1.1 billion in 2008.
The media conglomerate’s newspaper division saw income drop to $466 million during the fiscal year, compared to $786 million in fiscal 2008, thanks to declining ad revenues — a problem that has plagued all media companies during the past year.
Meanwhile, News Corp. highlighted Fox News’s performance as a bright spot.
“The FOX News Channel (FNC) operating income, as compared to the prior year, increased 50 percent for both the fourth quarter and the full year, primarily from increased affiliate revenues,” the company said in its earnings release. “For the full year, FNC primetime ratings were up 45 percent compared with the same period a year ago.”