Murdoch Say Wall Street Journal Will Go "FREE"

Rupert Murdoch, head of News Corp (NWS) told Reuters that the tough economy is not hurting his company in the current quarter. Good news for his shareholders.

But, the most important thing Mr. Murdoch said in his current trip to Australia is that “he was also planning to boost the numbers of subscribers to the Wall Street Journal’s Web site more than tenfold by making access free.”

“We are studying it and we expect to make that free, and instead of having 1 million (subscribers) having at least 10-15 million in every corner of the earth,” Murdoch added.

So, the mogul will assume that he will lose his one million subscribers who pay about $79 a year to get the paper online. But, with over 10 million or more daily readers, Murdoch must believe that he will pick up tons of new advertising. He recently bought Dow Jones (DJ) the Journal’s owner.

The effects of Murdoch’s decision could send a huge wave through the financial content business, threatening to take ad revenue from online versions of the New York Times (NYT), Pearson’s (PSO) Financial Times as well as the huge and profitable money sections of portals like MSN (MSFT) and Yahoo! (YHOO). In other words, it could change the dynamics of where online financial advertising is placed and which properties make money.

Murdoch has the instincts of a riverboat gambler. He may not win this hand, but he stands to do a lot of damage to the competition.

Douglas A. McIntyre