$1.50 A Day, Please

That's how much Rupert Murdoch is planning to ask online readers to pay to read the Times and the Sunday Times of London. Ian Grayson thinks it's genius. Jeff Jarvis less so:

Murdoch will milk his cash cow a pound at a time, leaving his children with a dry, dead beast, the remains of his once proud if not great newspaper empire. I used to work for Murdoch at his American magazine TV Guide. I respected his balls. It is a pity to see them gone.

Meanwhile, the WSJ announces $18 a month to read it on an iPad. Michael Wolff, as usual, puts the boot in:

You’ll get the online side for free if you merely subscribe to the paper product. Online is an add-on, in other words, a form of subscription promotiona reader service.

You encourage present subscribers, more and more tempted by online access and efficiency, to renew. You bring back a small portion of those who, in the recent years of online transformation, have deserted you.

And you give the finger to those people who you’ll never make a buck on (including that ever-growing international audience who UK advertisers aren’t interested in). Anyway, the point is to discourage online readership and, if you really want the Times, turn you back to the paper product.

This all makes sense in a through-the-looking-glass sort of way. Or, it makes sense if you see your business as finite. That is, to maximize profits in the short term.

It is not an entirely unstrategic plan if you are 79.