News Corp and Facebook in talks on subscription

NEW YORK • News Corp, publisher of the Wall Street Journal and the Times of London, is holding "very advanced" discussions with Facebook about subscriptions to its content online, chief executive officer Robert Thomson said.

"I've been talking with Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, exchanging thoughts on how important it is that the value of content should be recognised," Mr Thomson said in an interview at a media industry conference on Wednesday in Turin, Italy.

"We are in the middle of negotiations with Facebook on a subscription mechanic."

Earlier at the conference, he attacked the digital walled gardens used by technology companies such as Alphabet's Google and Facebook.

"They are made to keep people in, this is not free movement of people," he said in the interview. "Particularly Google is a problem."

News Corp shares reversed earlier losses and gained 0.3 per cent to US$13.53 at the close on Wednesday in New York. The stock has climbed 18 per cent this year.

A deal to promote subscriptions via Facebook could be a boon to the newspaper and magazine industries.

Publishers are relying more on getting readers to pay because they have struggled to sustain a digital advertising business as Facebook and Google vacuum up the lion's share of online ad dollars.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2017, with the headline 'News Corp and Facebook in talks on subscription'. Print Edition | Subscribe