After much speculation, News Corp. has confirmed that it is considering a split that would see the media and entertainment conglomerate cleave itself in two, with the newspaper (and book publishing) assets carved out as a separate unit from its TV and movie businesses. Although the company could still decide not to do so,the idea raises an interesting question: Assuming that chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch is interested in seeing that newspaper-only unit succeed — as opposed to just selling it to someone else or slowly liquidating it — what would he have to do in order to make that happen? (Update: News Corp. officially confirmed the split on Thursday)
When it comes to the digital aspects of its newspaper business — which includes the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the Times of London and the Australian, among other prominent names — News Corp. is a creature of contradictions. Many have criticised Murdoch for being too quick to erect “hard” paywalls at newspapers like the Times (as opposed to soft or metered paywalls like the one at the New York Times), since that resulted in a massive loss of readers for the venerable British paper. Murdoch also maintained the paywall at the Wall Street Journal after buying it in 2007, despite initially saying that he planned to remove it.