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News Corp. Pushes for Online News Consortium

In recent weeks , News Corp. executives have been talking to publishers about forming a consortium that would charge for news distributed online and on portable devices. Chief Digital Officer Jonathan Miller has positioned News Corp. as the leader in the effort to start collecting fees because of its success with The Wall Street Journal Online, which has more than 1 million paying subscribers.

Miller is believed to have met with major news publishers including New York Times Co., Washington Post, Hearst and Tribune, publisher of the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. "The reality is that unless a lot of people that produce news act in unison to start charging for content, then individually they will fail," says Alan Mutter, consultant on new media ventures.

A consortium of newspaper publishers is bound to attract scrutiny from federal regulators, who worry that it reduces competition, says antitrust attorney Robert W. Doyle Jr. The key question is whether there a competitive reason for the companies to get together, Doyle says. "If there is a pro-competitive benefit, that's weighed against the anti-competitive problem of allowing competitors to get together."



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