First Click Free – Google’s answer to Rupert Murdoch.

The recent threats by media mogul Rupert Murdoch got all of us wondering what Google’s response would be. Well now Mountain View has responded to all the criticisms that are being leveled against it by the various newspublishers. According to the Google News blog, “First Click Free  is a great way for publishers to promote their content and for users to check out a news source before deciding whether to pay.
“Previously, each click from a user would be treated as free. Now, we’ve updated the program so that publishers can limit users to no more than five pages per day without registering or subscribing. If you’re a Google user, this means that you may start to see a registration page after you’ve clicked through to more than five articles on the website of a publisher using First Click Free in a day.”
The way this works is that “participating publishers allow the [Google] crawler to index their subscription content, then allow users who find one of those articles through Google News or Google Search to see the full page without requiring them to register or subscribe. The user’s first click to the content is free, but when a user clicks on additional links on the site, the publisher can show a payment or registration request.”
This I think will go a long way in calming the recent tensions between the various media houses and Google. As Rupert Murdoch said, good journalism does not come cheap. There always needs to be a balanced way between informing people and compensating the informers. This concession by the search engine giant should be welcomed by newspaper publishers who lose money because people bypass their subscription fees by calling up their pages through Google, whose searches frequently link directly to newspaper articles, bypassing some sites’ subscription systems.
The the recent slump in the advertising revenues of the various publishing houses has forced most of them to start charging for online content. For instance, earlier this week Johnston Press, the UK’s largest regional newspaper publisher, announced plans to to begin charging for access to six of its titles online. The move follows a 42% slump in advertising revenues at the group over the last two years.

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