Murdoch kills news aggregator project only weeks before launch

In an embarrassing climbdown, News Corporation has announced it is canning its Project Alesia aggregated digital news platform just weeks away from its launch.

Things must have looked bad for the normally bullish and committed News Corp suddenly to kill the initiative after investing at least £20 million and employing 100 people to develop the idea for over a year.

Besides the loss of face, the decision is a major blow to Rupert Murdoch's hopes of getting people to pay for his papers' digital content in one way or another.

With gloomy forecasts for the Times Newspapers' paywall (and still no concrete audience or subscription figures from the Murdoch empire) Project Alesia looked like the group's best bet in this area.

Designed as an industry initiative that would combine content from News Corp's stable of newspapers — the Times, Sunday Times, Sun and News of the World — with offerings from other publishers, it was meant to run on online, smartphone and iPad-type platforms and compete with the great news aggregating beast that is Google.

Both the mobile facility and the combination of content seemed to give News Corp a much better chance of bringing in subscribers than its standalone paywall.

Now the great idea is dust, so what next for Rupert and his team?

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About David O'Reilly

David is a former deputy editor of Campaign and writer for a number of leading titles including Management Today and the Sunday Times. He is a partner in The Editorial Partnership.