Murdoch needs hard figures to bring other publishers on board his digital news platform

Does Rupert Murdoch see himself as a modern day Julius Caesar?

One has to ask, seeing as News Corporation’s planned digital news platform is known within the group as “Project Alesia”, this being one of the Roman general’s greatest military victories, where a combination of thorough planning and persistence eventually wore down the opposition.

The project, which is planned to launch before Christmas, is Rupert’s attempt to get some other publishers on board his crusade to persuade the public to pay for their news content.

There will be a range of newspaper content available across all digital platforms, including the iPad and Google’s Android system, and besides featuring News Corp’s core print titles, the publisher wants to load as much third party content as possible.

According to MediaTel, Murdoch’s people have been in intense talks with their rivals with a view to setting up a powerful consortium and are believed to be planning a £10 per month subscription fee.

All of which is all very well. Yet while one would expect a joint operation to have a better chance than News Corp’s go-it-alone effort, the media industry is still waiting for any figures at all on how the Times Newspapers paywall is faring.

There were hopes last week that Dominic Carter would reveal some numbers at the Future of National Newspapers seminar but all he would say was that the figures are encouraging.

News International is putting plenty of effort and planning into Project Alesia, with 120 people believed to be working on it, but the group will have to be rather more specific with the numbers, one thinks, if they want to persuade a major publisher to sign up.

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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.