Murdoch: Papers will be digital in 10-15 years

News Corp. CEO also restates his position on paid content

News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch believes that in 10-15 years, newspapers will be read mainly on digital devices.

"Instead of an analog product printed on paper, you may get it on a panel, which will be mobile, which will receive the whole newspaper over the air, and be updated every hour or two. All of these things are possible and some of the greatest electronic companies in the world are working on this right now," Murdoch said during an interview with Brian Sullivan on the Fox Business Network. Murdoch is at the All Things Digital "D7" Conference.

"I think it's two or three years away before they get introduced in a big way, and then it will probably take 10-15 years for the public to swing over," he added.

Murdoch restated his position on paid content, noting that people are soon going to have to pay to read newspapers online. "That's going to stop," Murdoch said about readers who access content for free on the Web. "You'll be able to get the get the guts of the main headlines and alerts and everything on your Blackberry, your Palm or whatever. All day long. People need news."

Murdoch said the rush by newspapers to get more eyeballs by putting content on the Web for free has been damaging. But he dismissed the idea that the newspaper landscape will one day consist of the nationals -- papers such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today -- and smaller community papers while metros vanish.

When Sullivan mentioned the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's print edition folding and the Rocky Mountain News' demise as evidence, Murdoch responded that both of those cities still have metro papers.

Debt, said Murdoch, is one problem newspapers have at the moment -- but that won't mean the death of the industry. "If you look at the Tribune Co., for instance, the great paper and the Los Angeles Times, I bet you they are still making money individually but they can't pay their interest," Murdoch said. "So we're saying, 'Oh, their bankruptcy is terrible.' That doesn't mean the end of a newspaper. It simply means that someone is going to buy them from a bank."

He did bring up another two-newspaper town: Chicago. "It's very hard to see how the Sun-Times can get going. It thought it was hard 10 years ago when I owned it."

Don't expect Murdoch to take handouts from Uncle Sam: "We would never take money from the government. We'd give up our freedoms and everything else to criticize or to play our full role in the community."
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