boston.com Business your connection to The Boston Globe

News Corp. may halt WSJ.com fees

MySpace chief Chris DeWolfe (left) and chairman Rupert Murdoch of News Corp. discussed their changing business yesterday at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco. MySpace will open itself to outside developers within two months, DeWolfe said. MySpace chief Chris DeWolfe (left) and chairman Rupert Murdoch of News Corp. discussed their changing business yesterday at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco. MySpace will open itself to outside developers within two months, DeWolfe said. (Kimberly White/Reuters)

News Corp. will probably end subscription fees at WSJ.com and will open the MySpace social-networking website to developers in a push to add readers and advertisers, chairman Rupert Murdoch said.

A decision on WSJ.com will be made by year-end, Murdoch said yesterday in an interview at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco. MySpace plans to open itself to outside developers in the next two months, the site's chief, Chris DeWolfe, said.

Murdoch, who said the planned $5.2 billion purchase of Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co. will close in December, is signaling the newspaper's website will rely on advertising sales. News Corp., which gets 45 percent of its revenue from ads, is planning to attract more users and ads to MySpace by adding features that compete with Facebook Inc.

"We want a bigger presence on the Internet," Murdoch, 76, said at a keynote address at the conference. "Things are changing so fast."

News Corp. Class A shares fell 27 cents to $22.06 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The company, based in New York, has gained 2.7 percent this year.

Murdoch plans to increase the Journal's coverage of politics, arts, and fashion to compete with The New York Times. The New York Times Co. also owns The Boston Globe.

"I want to improve it in every way in what it does now with finance," Murdoch said.

The plan to scrap fees for the Journal website follows the decision by the Times in September to eliminate a $49.95 annual charge to read columnists and access archives online.

News Corp.'s August agreement to buy Dow Jones, also publisher of Dow Jones Newswires and Barron's, followed months of negotiations with the controlling Bancroft family. Dow Jones will become part of the Murdoch media empire of film and television studios and more than 110 newspapers stretching from Sydney to New York to London.

The Dow Jones newsgathering organization will also help News Corp.'s Fox Business Network, which started Monday, to compete with General Electric Co.'s CNBC and Bloomberg News.

Dow Jones yesterday reported third-quarter profit that fell less than analysts estimated as sales jumped 20 percent. The company reduced newsprint costs 32 percent by shrinking the size of The Wall Street Journal and is increasing online sales to offset declining print advertising.

Opening MySpace lets outside developers add games and features that attract users and keep current fans on the site longer, De Wolfe said.

That may lure more advertisers as well.

By letting outside programmers develop features, MySpace may be trying to win back users who have defected to smaller Facebook, the closely held, Palo Alto, Calif.-based website.

More from Boston.com

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES