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Murdoch warns of print's complacency over Internet

Murdoch warns of print's complacency over Internet

Rupert Murdoch has confessed that the rapid migration of readers and advertisers to the Internet has caught the whole newspaper industry unawares, and has urged US print editors to adapt to reality.

Addressing the American Society of Newpaper Editors in Washington yesterday, he said: "The threat of losing print advertising dollars to online media is very real. In fact, it's already happening, particularly in classifieds."

His News Corporation media empire invested heavily and lost out heavily in the dotcom boom and bust, and Murdoch admitted it was a case of once bitten, twice shy. But he pointed to research from the Carnegie Corporations, which shows that the Web is now increasingly the medium of choice for news among people aged 18-34.

He said: "As an industry, most of us have been remarkably, unaccountably complacent. Certainly, I didn't do as much as I should have after all the excitement of the late 1990s."

News Corp executives were recently assembled in New York to discuss the company's Internet strategy, and Murdoch indicated yesterday that they were looking to the portals, such as Yahoo!, which had done a better job of serving people's needs than newspaper Websites.

Warning editors that newspapers need to rethink their Web presence, he said: "How many of us can honestly say that we are taking maximum advantage of [our] Websites to serve our readers, to strengthen our business and to meet head-on what readers increasingly say is important to them in receiving their news."

News Corp's News International owns The Times, which after spending millions on a conversion to tabloid format in the hope of picking up readers is up 4.63% year on year, and The Sun, which is down 3.73% year on year. Sun executives recently restricted the amount of content viewable for free on its Website, concerned that this was contributing to the loss of the paper's circulation.

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