News Corp. forms digital device team

Handheld tool would give users access to firm's content

NEW YORK -- News Corp. has picked a team of executives from around its global empire to develop a gadget that would allow the conglomerate to distribute its Internet content and charge consumers for it.

A source Wednesday confirmed a report in the News Corp.-owned New York Post that the team includes chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, his son James -- who serves as chairman and CEO, Europe and Asia -- new chief digital officer Jonathan Miller and Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton, among others.

Murdoch first mentioned his company's plans to develop its own digital content device at the Cable Show last month. Seen as similar to Amazon's Kindle e-book reader, the gadget would offer content from News Corp.'s newspapers, as well as TV and film operations. According to the Post, Miller is also talking to other publishers and content creators about syndication deals.

In its quarterly earnings conference call after the market close, management said it would take a while to develop a device, and Murdoch said News Corp. is not a device maker. He didn't give specifics about who the hardware partner or partners for the company could be.

Murdoch did say though that the newspaper model is broken and said newspapers must charge for online content, pointing to his firm's experience with The Wall Street Journal as an example for success.

He made it clear that News Corp. would not feed its content to Amazon's Kindle or similar devices. "We will control the prices for our content and we will control the relationship with our customers," he said.