News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch kicked off the Abu Dhabi Media Summit today with a rousing call for media companies -- like his -- to be fairly paid for their work that appears online.
As the media world goes ga-ga over the launch of Apple's iPad, Murdoch reminded the audience that "the bright and shiny wonders that technology gives us can be like the desert sun—they can blind us to what is real and valuable.
"Amid the digital dazzle, we risk missing the magic: the creative content that brings these devices to life," he said. [Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal is working with Apple to develop an iPad application.]
Murdoch went on say that Amazon's Kindle and other e-readers are worthless without books, newspapers and magazines to read.
Advanced high-definition televisions would go unsold in electronics stores if there was not a robust selection of sports, drama, comedy and news programming to watch.
Rupe's message: "Without creative content, these electronic devices are merely expense playthings."
News Corp. also reportedly is in discussion with Microsoft's Bing search engine to devise a plan to prevent Google from stealing its content. And then there is the New York Post!!! Charging for Page Six gossip, perhaps.
News Corp is juggling a lot of balls. Media companies are watching whether those balls will hit the floor.
Let's go back to the prepared remarks of Murdoch's speech. He urged the Arab World to open up to fresh outside ideas, while spurring its own creativity. In the 21st Century, "untapped creativity in this region represents a resource infinitely more precious than oil," said Murdoch.
While oil is undeniably vital to our world, Murdoch said:
"In this bright new century, the most advanced societies will be those that are most creative. Creativity is a resource that excites the imagination…expands jobs and opportunity, and improves our quality of life. It is clean, and it is high-value. Most of all, because it is rooted in the human mind, creativity is the one economic resource that it truly inexhaustible."
The News Corp. CEO is not a big fan of Japan. He held Japan out as a place where national creativity is stifled by protectionist barriers.
Murdoch is upset that News Corp. and other foreign companies can only own a "tiny" share of Japan's creative sector. Hence, Japan is a modern nation that employs a relatively few in creative businesses.
U.S. PR firms, for instance, have had a tough slog in Japan, where Dentsu rules the roost. That's a sharp difference than the situation in China, a thriving market for PR.
Murdoch believes Japan’s standing in the world suffers because of protectionist policies. "Japanese culture is denied the global voice that a nation which boasts the world’s second largest economy ought to have," he said.
Hats off to Murdoch, who celebrates his 79th birthday tomorrow! Good luck with charging for content, and News Corp.'s effort to push into the Middle East and even Japan.