Murdoch said “disruptive technologies” posed a mortal threat to the printed press during his appearance before the Leveson Inquiry, which is examining British press ethics.
“The fact is, the internet came along, slowly developed as a source of news, and is now absolutely in our space. And it is responsible for a loss of circulation,” he said.
“In five years time there will be a billion tablets; smart telephones will probably be double that. There is very little cost of entry there; there is great cost of entry for newspapers.
“I think we’ll have, in quite a while – not 10 years; some people say five, but I am inclined to say 20 – we will have very small circulations. The day will come when [publishers] will say we can’t afford the big presses and we will be purely electronic.”
But Hollands, the outgoing chief executive of PANPA, which recently merged with newspaper trade group The Newspaper Works, told ProPrint newspapers would survive in the “foreseeable future”.
“It is too easy to get swept up in all this dying business. It’s like listening to a broken record. Every time somebody utters such a prediction, you get this near hysterical reaction…Some newspapers will close. Many will continue for years and years to come.”
Hollands said newspapers had to find a profitable way to “extend their brand into the digital domain” and move away from the model of print subsidising the rest of the business.
“If publishers cannot shake themselves from that scenario, then I doubt they have 10 years left in the business unless there are other lines of revenue to sustain them.
“I know Kerry Stokes and Rupert Murdoch have both predicted the end of newspapers. I seriously doubt in their heart they mean that – at least for their lifetimes.”
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