Sorry, Rupert Murdoch: Facebook isn’t a pay TV company.
Quick memo to Rupert Murdoch, Jonah Peretti and other media executives who would like Facebook to replicate the cable model, and pay them a yearly fee in exchange for their content: It’s not going to happen, says Mark Zuckerberg.
“I’m not sure that makes sense,” Zuckerberg said when asked about the proposal, floated by Murdoch and others over the last year, during a wide-ranging interview today.
“People come to Facebook primarily not to consume news but to communicate with people,” Zuckerberg said. “The way we can help out the most with that is by helping out with a business model that is profitable and sustainable for news organizations.”
At Off the Record, an annual gathering of journalists and media executives hosted by The Information, Quartz and BuzzFeed in Menlo Park, Zuckerberg repeatedly emphasized his interest in help new organizations sell subscriptions to their content.
“The advertising model is what most people have focused on” for internet publications, he said. “That can be be good, but it’s not the whole story.” Zuckerberg said he was “frustrated” that Facebook’s efforts to promote subscriptions via his properties haven’t moved as quickly as he’d like. The company has “moved too slowly on getting the subscription product to perform really well,” he said.
But he said Facebook itself would continue to focus on providing a free, ad-supported service. “In our case, I think it’s ok,” he said. “It’s a very efficient model.”
Zuckerberg didn’t appear to be familiar with recent calls that Murdoch, who controls News Corp. and 21st Century Fox, and Peretti, the CEO of BuzzFeed, have made for Facebook to pay the equivalent of a carriage fee for access to their material.
He did say his thinking has changed around requiring publishers with subscription services to provide at least some of their content for free on his network. Initially, Facebook wanted publishers using Facebook’s paywall tool to provide a minimum number of articles for free each month.
Now, he says, he has “basically concluded that the right decision is to let everyone set the meter where they want it to be.”
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