01 June 2009

Big news day, but not for people with three university degrees

Today (give or take an hour or two) one or two new (or one new and one recycled) media outlets came on stream here.

The Punch , not to be confused with its Nigerian namesake , is a News Corp website. Its editor David Penberthy says:

The Punch is a new opinion website aimed at every Australian with a love of ideas, discussion and debate.

It’s not a fancy, la-di-dah site aimed at people with three university degrees, nor is it a site for yobbos who want to engage in mindless abuse.

It’s a place for spirited, sleeves-up, energetic, engaging commentary, written by people who enjoy writing, for people who enjoy reading.

As today’s spread of topics illustrates, The Punch is just as happy covering politics as it is covering TV, crime, music, social trends, sport, business, economics, food and fashion. Every day it will present diverse opinions from its own small team, and a rolling roster of almost 100 outside contributors, to give you real-time commentary and analysis of news and current affairs. Many of their names are published below; you will see them and others roll out over the coming fortnight.

SBS TWO (upper case) on channel 33 is the former SBS World News with some additional news, drama, documentary and (we are promised) sport content in the evenings. My EPG still confusingly lists "SBS 2" which is in fact, with channels 31, 34 and 350, an alternative SBS 1 (or ONE) : I hope the rebadging is completed soon though will visit the channel more often than I did in its previous iteration.

Several other media related stories are also worth a mention (and perhaps a post another time).

Foremost among them is Mr Murdoch's affirmation of the subscription model for online newspaper content , rather than the iTunes pay per item model which he lauded in his Boyer Lectures last year:

Rupert Murdoch has reaffirmed subscriptions, rather than pay-per-view, as his preferred future business model for online newspapers.

In an interview on the Fox Business Network, Mr Murdoch predicted newspapers would be completely digital within the next two or three years, and widely consumed on a mobile electronic device, updated every hour or two.

The chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, which owns The Weekend Australian, said newspapers would have to stop giving most of their content away online.

His comments came as two dozen or so top American newspaper executives met in Chicago this week to discuss possible online business models and the future of the troubled industry.

"There's a case that newspapers rushing on to the web to try and get a bigger audience and get more attention for themselves have damaged themselves," Mr Murdoch told Fox. "Now they're going to have to pull back from that and say, 'Hey, we're going to charge for this'."

He said one-off charges to read individual newspaper articles was not the way forward.

"I believe newspapers will be selling subscriptions on the web," Mr Murdoch said. "A (newspaper) website will be vastly improved, much more in them and you'll pay for them."

Even the sleeves up Mr Penberthy echoes the great man's voice: "If we ever did decide to charge a subscription, the fee would be reasonable, and would involve offering additional premium content, rather than blocking readers from accessing the existing site."

And another thing: The Australian's Media section reports another round in the ABC v Sky TV News war. Won't say much now except that IMO Sky has won more battles/ skirmishes than I'd have thought. More later.

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