News Corp reader revenues

Overseas audiences looking to social media for insight on Australian issues will likely get them from one source only: News Corp Australia. As The Australian reports, “Apple’s subscription news service News+ has launched on Tuesday in Australia with News Corp Australia the exclusive local provider of news”.

“Exclusive” because, according to a statement given to AdNews, Nine — which publishes The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review — chose not to participate because the platform’s “non-negotiable terms do not sustain a significant investment in quality, independent journalism”.

Elsewhere there was the debut of the News Corp-owned Sky News’ Facebook-exclusive social media program “Unpacked” following a content partnership announcement with Facebook. The program appears daily on the Facebook Watch platform, taking “a deep-dive into a major news story each day … reporting from the field to provide a unique point of view from everyday Australians on the news making headlines online”.

In light of this, it’s no wonder that News Corp CEO Robert Thomson went gushing (after years of bitter criticism) about a new relationship with social media companies in an analyst briefing released in August:

“We are still at a relatively early stage of this tectonic transformation, but there will surely be an ongoing transfer of value to creators in coming years, which should be a great benefit to News Corp and its investors … And discussions are under way with other digital companies, though I am not at liberty at this moment to provide more detail. What I can say is that the terms of trade and the tenor of our talks are now vastly different to even a year ago.”

Given the relationship between News Corp and the Morrison government, Apple’s News+ and Facebook pushing out content from the Oz and Sky News will likely prove just another avenue to push Coalition talking points — climate denialism included. With News Corp’s financial hurdles (including the black hole of Foxtel) it’s not surprising that the company would take what allies it can get.

Peter Fray

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