Monday, October 8, 2012

Murdoch and the digital revolution

Rupert Murdoch has been the most powerful media mogul of the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. So his decision to quit his position of chairman of the London Times added to his previous parting of his group in two branches, one devoted to television and the new media and the other one including the old media, i.e. newspapers, gives a lot of food for thought.

In a recent article in the New York Times, the Reuters media correspondant speculates that it means the sale of the print publications of the group and specially the Times. Yet the big question is: who could buy these old fashioned and deficit ridden print products. They are not profitable but they still carry some power and influence: one could imagine that a foreign investor, Chinese, Russian or Indian could be tempted to enter the field. It would be a rude blow for the British estabilshment.

However, a recent study from the Pew research center would justify Murdoch's decision. In 10 years, in the US, the proportion of people who look for information in the print press has gone down from 41 to 23%. 55% of the readers of the New York Times use the digital edition. 71% of the population keeps informed thanks to TV news.

The social networks are still informing a minority but they grow steadily, from 9 to 19%.

In Europe, the figures would be lower but they move in the same direction. Television is the dominant media. Internet is more and more popular thanks to mobiles and tablets. Face book and Twitter attract people under 35. Old Murdoch is probably right to stick to Fox and BskyB.