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Murdoch Demands Kindle Users' Info 433

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the another-in-a-long-line-of-bad-decisions dept.
In yet another move to display how antiquated and completely ignorant of digital culture he is, Rupert Murdoch has started demanding that Amazon hand over user info for all Kindle users. This demand comes right after Murdoch just finished negotiating a larger share of revenue from Amazon sales. At least Amazon hasn't decided to comply with this request yet. "'As I've said before, the traditional business model has to change rapidly to ensure that our journalistic businesses can return to their old margins of profitability,' Murdoch said. 'Quality journalism is not cheap, and an industry that gives away its content is simply cannibalizing its ability to produce good reporting.'"
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Murdoch Demands Kindle Users' Info

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  • Quality Journalism? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by steve_thatguy (690298) on Friday August 07, 2009 @02:52PM (#28989883)
    Sure, *quality* journalism probably isn't cheap, but if Rupert's paying much for Fox News-caliber journalism, he's getting ripped off. [fbcdn.net]
  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday August 07, 2009 @02:56PM (#28989917) Journal

    ...after which I will send my Kindle back to amazon for a full refund. If necessary I'll invoke VISA's help to charge it back. It wasn't part of the contract for amazon to erase my 1984 book off my kindle, or to reveal my info to third party assholes. I can tolerate some things but this passes the line.

    Aside-

    I mentioned elsewhere that amazon is holding ~$500 of my sales as a seller in limbo. Well a day after I said that publicly they immediately refunded the money, but still kept $79 for themselves. I eventually tracked-down the reason - an asshole woman in California bought a Zenith DTV box from me, and even though I already provided Amazon with proof-of-delivery, they decided to keep the $79 and refund it back to this woman. So she successfully stole my property, with amazon's help.

    Grrr. I'm really starting to hate amazon.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 07, 2009 @02:59PM (#28989941)

    Apparently, he's upset that Kindle users can subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, but the subscriber information is not passed back to News Corp. so the subscription has less marketing value.

  • It's not cheap, actually, but the majority of the costs right now are attached to the print business: printing, delivery, sales and support staff. Those things cost dramatically more than a bunch of journalists making less than the national average salary.

    Mind you, print costs alone aren't the problem. Hiring a few dozen staff members who do nothing but write is still extremely expensive, and that assumes no lawsuits, no hotel bills, no mileage, no FOIA printing charges, etc.

    I think the print news model will likely stablize on a payment model; some kind of microtransaction thing, or a very modest subscription cost. People say, "No one will ever pay for what they can get now, for free" but that same argument would have doomed cable television, and cable is alive and well.

    Murdoch, as big a prick as he is, is doing the industry a favor by bringing this up. Eventually the "all free" thing is going to ebb away. Too many services, popular services, are bringing in massive traffic, and still unable to make a profit. It's going to have to change.

  • by sumdumass (711423) on Friday August 07, 2009 @03:15PM (#28990167) Journal

    I know it's hard to RTFA when they didn't even provide a link [dailyfinance.com]. I think the story is taking some creative licenses with what Murdoch has said.

    "Murdoch acknowledged that the Journal recently negotiated a slightly larger share of the revenues Amazon gets from selling Kindle subscriptions to the paper, "but it's not a big number, and we're not encouraging it at all because we don't get the names of the subscribers," he said. "Kindle treats them as their subscribers, not as ours, and I think that will eventually cause a break with us."

    Is what he said and it appears to me that he is using that fact as a bargaining step to get more of the revenue model. It's no secrete that if you subscribe to the WSJ either in print of online directly, they have your names and can used those for marketing research and other ways to profit directly or to maximize their own profit. In this case, I'm thinking they just want a larger share of the profits and brought the lack of names up as a bargaining position.

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Friday August 07, 2009 @03:16PM (#28990177)

    ...after which I will send my Kindle back to amazon for a full refund. If necessary I'll invoke VISA's help to charge it back. It wasn't part of the contract for amazon to erase my 1984 book off my kindle, or to reveal my info to third party assholes. I can tolerate some things but this passes the line.
    ...
    This video reveals Obama's Real Agenda in his own words - foxnews.com/video2/video08.html?maven_referralObject=7478735

    A little conflicted here, are we?

  • by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Friday August 07, 2009 @03:28PM (#28990355)
    So sue amazon. You have proof of sale and delivery, so it should be easy. Besides, it's not like amazon has the time to spend in court.
  • by MemoryDragon (544441) on Friday August 07, 2009 @03:32PM (#28990411)

    You obviously never have seen a sony reader do you?
    The thing can be loaded via usb just like a normal harddrive, you can use drmed ebooks but open epub books and
    pdfs work quite fine and there is no way that sony can pull a book from you unless you confirm it first in the uploading pc software
    to sync it away.
    For all bad things sony has done in this area, they hit it right on the head with the ebook readers they simply
    are a good mixture between being almost entirely open and still supporting drm unlike amazon who pulls stupid tricks
    with the mobipocket format and their users.
    I never got it why amazon got all the sales, the sony ebook reader is more open and has a way better build quality.
    I guess amazon did the hype machine right, while Sonys always was somehow off radar.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday August 07, 2009 @03:39PM (#28990533) Homepage

    Those old margins are gone. Sorry Rupert.

    Oh so you noticed he said "old margins of profitability" not just "profitability" too, eh?

    Yeah, I bet Murdoch would like to have his "old margins" where all it took was to buy up a couple papers in an area to give you an effective monopoly, and there wasn't a hundred sources of the same information all competing for eyeballs.

    "It has a huge and loyal and profitable [web] audience already," he said." wait, didn't you jst say it wasn't and that's why you are going to start charging?

    Yeah. Apparently what he's saying is that foxnews.com is already profitable, but he's just not happy with the margins, so he's going to have to start charging people.

    Well guess what? Nobody gives a shit that you're profitable but not as much as you'd like to be. Right now any company or division that's in the black should be counting their blessings, not talking about gouging their users so they can relive the Glory Days. Those days are gone!

    All he's going to do is alienate foxnews.com viewers who are feeling the crunch more than Murdoch is. When he loses those eyeballs and advertisers won't pay as much and suddenly foxnews is in the red again, what is he going to do? Jack up the subscription price hoping that'll help?

  • by yuna49 (905461) on Friday August 07, 2009 @03:49PM (#28990683)

    This doesn't exactly seem like an outrageous request.

    Perhaps, but then why didn't NewsCorp make that a requirement of its original contract with Amazon? According to TFA, NewsCorp just renegotiated that contract. They could have made access to the subscriber list a requirement of those negotiations as well. Sounds more like NewsCorp asked for the names, Amazon wouldn't agree, and Murdoch now wants to bitch about it. In this matchup, my money's on Amazon. So what if Kindle owners can't read the Journal online? It's not like they can't get it delivered in print or online forms or buy it at the local news stand. I'm guessing it has as much to do with Murdoch's ego and an inflated view of the true value of NewsCorp's properties in a networked world.

    I'm an Amazon Prime member, but I won't stay one for long if Amazon starts giving in to extortionate demands like this one.

  • by yuna49 (905461) on Friday August 07, 2009 @03:58PM (#28990819)

    Yea, because all the people who already pay a cable bill that's probably 50 bucks at least are going to refuse to pay some trivial fee to use foxnews.com, if they use it at all.

    A more likely, and disturbing, possibility is that NewsCorp will make the same kind of deal with cable operators that ESPN did for espn360.com. Access to foxnews.com will only be available to people using ISPs that carry Fox News on their cable channels. I already pay enough (i.e., >0) for Fox News on cable; now I'll get to subsidize its viewers' use of the foxnews.com website through my cable subscription fees to FiOS. This could be the future for many Internet services that are part of a larger media conglomerate with cable television properties. I have no idea whether it will succeed as a business model, but it does hide the price of the web service in the cost of a cable subscription.

  • by mikiN (75494) on Friday August 07, 2009 @04:13PM (#28991025)

    If (in the 1900s, or being very rich) I would contract an errand boy or courier to fetch my newspaper at the stand everyday and bring it to me, would it be reasonable for the newspaper publisher to know my personal details? I think not.

    Today, the newspaper boy or courier is replaced by programs stored on a computer that checks lists of Kindle users who subscribe to newspaper delivery services, fetches one copy of the paper from the publisher every day, and delivers that to Kindles. Any difference with the first example? I think not.

  • by rpresser (610529) <rpresser&gmail,com> on Friday August 07, 2009 @04:55PM (#28991353) Homepage

    Murdoch: "These people are subscribing to our paper. They're OUR subscribers."
    Kindle: "No, they're just customers in our bookstore. We sell them the same thing every day, it's true, but their relationship is with us, not you."

    They're both tetched in the head.

  • NPR (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday August 07, 2009 @05:01PM (#28991415)

    At this point, I always direct people to NPR. 10% comes from the government, 35% from corporate sponsors, the rest from listeners. It doesn't get much more directly supported than this. If you don't like their programming, tell them you won't support them anymore. If there's more like you, watch them change the programming. Amazing how that has created some kick-ass reporting.

  • by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Friday August 07, 2009 @05:07PM (#28991467) Journal

    The WSJ is a very high quality newspaper. One of the few and the only major paper that has had drastic cut backs in staffing and still does substantial research.

    Murdoch is a jerk but the WSJ deserves respect as a great paper

    Was a very high quality newspaper. I dropped my subscription shortly after Mrudoch took over; now its just another conservative rag.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 07, 2009 @05:18PM (#28991551)

    Yea, demanding his subscribers info is understandable. Otherwise he'd lose his customers to Amazon. They are no longer his, but Amazon's. Basically the same dilemma indie game developers are in when selling on portals like Big Fish Games. They lose every relationship with their customers. Every business who has some leverage to demand access to customers would do the same.

  • by timeOday (582209) on Friday August 07, 2009 @05:35PM (#28991681)
    Does digital culture somehow imply that distributors (Amazon) have more rights to information than producers (WSJ)? When we have this same discussion about Comcast wanting to get a slice of google's business because "they're using our pipes to make money," the consensus is the opposite.

    As for backlash against Amazon for letting WSJ know who WSJ subscribers are... I think not. Look at Amazon's main business (mail order), they refer millions of orders to vendors (This Item Ships From XYZ...) who do get your address when you buy through Amazon.

    So, it is very hard for me to see this as a matter of principle. It's just a couple businesses battling over control of a revenue stream.

  • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Friday August 07, 2009 @05:41PM (#28991719) Homepage
    The economy is shit at the moment and I think people are coming around to realising that a lot of Murdoch's "news" outlets are complete bullshit and going elsewhere for their news.
  • by dynamo (6127) on Friday August 07, 2009 @06:16PM (#28991987) Journal

    Yeah, those 3rd-party vendors do get your address because they *need* it to write out the shipping forms to get it physically to your house. And similarly, with the Kindle, Amazon gets that info because they need it to know who to send the bits to over the network.

    I'm sure that if Amazon were selling paper subscriptions to the WSJ that were delivered by WSJ itself, they'd give them the addresses.

    Murdoch is a dinosaur, and not just because he's the mouthpiece for a political party that also has managed to sink itself almost to it's mouth level (just wait for this pay-for-propaganda-in-news-clothing thing to take effect), this is one of the early death wails.

    The bottom line is that my personal information as a consumer is meant to be given out on a need-to-know basis. There's nothing good that might happen to the subscribers if Amazon shares the info, most likely just spam and behavioral tracking / profiling.

    I'm going to buy something from Amazon to thank them.

  • "Republican" tag (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bodero (136806) on Friday August 07, 2009 @06:20PM (#28992023)

    This may come as quite a shock, but Rupert Murdoch is far from a Republican. He's a businessman who saw an underrepresented market - cable TV news that slanted right rather than slanted left. Other than that, he's friends with plenty of liberal bigwigs and actively promoted Hillary Clinton's campaign.

  • by WCguru42 (1268530) on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:10PM (#28992807)

    'As I've said before, the traditional business model has to change rapidly to ensure that our journalistic businesses can return to their old margins of profitability,' Murdoch said

    Wait, let me get this straight, Murdoch can't run his business so he's asking other people to do it for him. It's called a consultant and they sure as hell ain't cheap. Seriously, if you claim to be a capitalist then make your business work or gtfo.

  • by demachina (71715) on Friday August 07, 2009 @10:33PM (#28993537)

    Last cable news show I watched regularly was Aaron Brown on CNN. That guy was AWESOME for just doing old school news reporting. Of course he was doomed trying to do that in this day and age, now that the news networks are desperately trying to out shock and pander each other. So they replace him with Anderson Cooper, Mr. inflated ego. Actual news reporting is pretty much dead on the news networks. Fox panders to the right, MSNBC panders to the left, and CNN tries to pander to everyone and succeeds with no one.

    So I watch CNN, MSNBC and Fox occassionly, but I favor PBS and BBC. Really I watch news on TV a lot less than I use to, I mostly just skim Google news now.

    The quality of all three U.S. cable news networks has deteriorated so much its sad. CNN in its early days under Turner and Bernard Shaw was head and shoulders better than any of the 24/7 news networks now. Its pretty criminal what Time Warner and Joe Klein have done to CNN. They've turned it in to complete garbage now. I wish they would sell it back to Ted Turner.

    I watch Glenn Beck now and again just because he is hilarious. That guy is completely NUTS, and he seals the deal that Fox has no standards or any pretense of "fair and balanced" that they A hired him and B keep, especially after his remarks wishing for another Al Qaeda attack on the U.S. O'Reilly isn't quite as nuts as Beck, he is mostly just mean and cranky. Sure Fox isn't really biased when they are regurgitated the same news as everyone else but even then they constantly slip in completing whoppers for untruth and bias, worse than any other network, and their stars are completely off the deep end for bias.

    I kind of like Rachael Maddow because she is at least smart and well spoken, but her left bias is pretty annoying too.

    I think I've read DailyKos for the space of about 2 days several years ago back when it was big news to see what the fuss was about. Those people are nuts too. I haven't really have any use for the Democrats either. Only thing they have in their favor is they aren't the complete horror the Republicans have become. The Republican party has cratered so badly, and is teetering so close to Fascism, everyone looks good by comparison, even the Democrats. The worst problem the Democrats have is Reid, Pelosi, Murtha, etc. are a complete embarrassment. The Democrats seriously need to get some Congressional leaders that don't suck. They just can't seem to elect competent men and women to Congress.

    I'd take Reagan or Nixon back any day over the pathetic carcass that is today's Republican party and that was Bush. If John McCain had been the John McCain of 2000 and he hadn't picked that nutcase Palin as his VP I would have voted for him over Obama. You see I'm about as hard core Independent as they come and I'm just screwed because I have to pick between the garbage the Dems and Republicans put on the ballot.

  • by demachina (71715) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @12:50AM (#28994069)

    "You could run. If you don't like the choices, then give the people a better choice."

    I wouldn't be electable in this country for anything above dog catcher. For starters, I'm anti religion. I simply wouldn't debase myself by pretending I'm religious just to get elected. As a result, I could never get elected for anything that matters in the U.S.

    I also say what I think with a disturbing regularity and to get elected you have to tell the majority of the people what they want to hear, not what you actually think or even what the facts are. To get elected you pretty much have to lie constantly, and by the time you succeed in getting elected you have so compromised yourself you don't remember what the truth is or what you stood for before you started the campaign.

    Unfortunately we get the bad politicians we get because the whole system is rigged to elect people who are good campaigners and horrible legislators. Not sure I could even stand being a Congressmen or President. You can't do anything right or well by the time you've made the thousand compromises necessary to pass a bill. Me I'd favor repealing a few thousand existing bad laws, rather than passing a bunch of new ones. Unfortunately passing an ever bigger teetering pile of crap laws is considered success for a politician which is why this country is slowly drowning under a pile of bad legislation.

    If you made me dictator for a year I'd take that job. Doubt the country could take the shock though. I'd disband at least half of the Federal bureaucracy, cut the military in at least half and make it a purely defensive force, eliminate taxes on everyone but the wealthy, and I'd let people opt out of Social Security and Medicare. Not sure the economy could take it because the Federal government printing and borrowing money, and pumping it out in Federal pork is one of the few things keeping the U.S. economy afloat.

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein

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