News today that Gordon Brown has used a Radio Times interview to slam Rupert Murdoch's plan to put News Corp's UK newspaper websites behind a paywall. Media Week reports him saying
"People have got used to getting content without having to pay," he said. "I don't think you are going to be able to put things behind paywalls in the way that people think."
Which is fair enough, if you think the point of the paywall is to get people to pay to visit the websites. It isn't.
If you listened to last week's PC Pro Podcast (and let's face it, who didn't?) you'd have heard Barry Collins speculate that the point of "charging" for online content on the Times and the Sun is to bundle them with Murdoch's other UK interests - primarily Sky's combined access and content business.
In that context the move makes a lot more sense. News Corp has given up trying to directly monetise online news, so is erecting a paywall. No-one will pay, and everyone knows no-one will pay, but that doesn't matter because once it's behind a paywall that content can be bundled with the Simpsons and Glee and Avatar and broadband access and telephony and the rest of the Sky package. If you can't make the Timesonline pay its way, maybe you can add it to a subs bundle and get an extra couple of quid a month for it - assuming you also own the right portfolio of access and content businesses to make that work.