News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch said Tuesday that mobile DTV is key to his company's strategy for remaining successful in the age of anytime, anywhere digital journalism.
He was speaking at a Federal Trade Commission workshop on the future of journalism and whether and how the government may need to step in.
Murdoch pointed out that News Corp. was working on a project to use a portion of broadcast spectrum to deliver TV, and perhaps newspapers, to mobile devices. In fact, he said that spectrum could provide a new economic vehicle for newspapers.
Today's news consumers don't want to be chained to a box in their homes or offices to get their news and entertainment, he said.
As for the government stepping in, Murdoch said he feared, and others should too, the growing drumbeat for government assistance should be as alarming as overregulation. That includes providing taxpayer funds for journalism or giving them nonprofit status in exchange for giving up the right to endorse political candidates.
He said that would only prop up those who produce what customers don't want, subsidizing failure and penalizing success. He said that government inserting itself into commercial journalism should be "chilling" to anyone concerned about the First Amendment.
One thing he said the government could and should do is remove the ban on newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership. He said that ban made as much sense as preventing newspapers from having Web sites.
He said too many regulations are based on 20th century assumptions and business models and that if the government is really worried about the survival of the news business, it should get rid of arbitrary and contradictory regulations that prevent people from investing in the business.
Murdoch said the three things that journalism needs to prosper are 1) to deliver news people want, when and where they want it, and to "innovate like never before"; 2) convincing consumers they will have to pay for news and information online; and 3) government to clear a path for investment and innovation by reducing unnecessary obstacles to growth and investment.
The News Corp. chairman also said that his company is increasing its investment in journalism, and pointed specifically to increased news at the Fox TV stations. He said that this year, the company has added more than 50 hours of news across all its stations, brining the total to more than 700 hours of news per week, "more than any other TV station group in the country."