Rupert Murdoch urges China to open digital door

MUMBAI: News Corporation chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch urged the Chinese government to take full advantage of the country’s creative potential by opening the door to media competition and ensuring that intellectual property is protected.

Speaking at the World Media Summit in Beijing, Murdoch said that the growth of Chinese media companies would also be hindered by intellectual property violations and that more competition would better prepare them for the rigors of the international market.

"The embrace of the digital age is as vital to China today as its decision thirty years ago to take its place in the global economy. The policy then was called ‘the open door’ – China now has a chance to open its digital door," said Murdoch.

He urged all content creators, Chinese and international, to recognize that the "Philistine phase" of the Internet’s evolution was almost over, and that users would have to pay for quality content in the near future.

"The aggregators and the plagiarists will soon have to pay a price for the co-opting of our content. But if we do not take advantage of the current movement toward paid-for content, it will be the content creators, the people in this hall, who will pay the ultimate price and the content kleptomaniacs will triumph," he added.

Murdoch also commented that with China’s emergence as a global power comes a global responsibility and urged China to take the lead in restarting the stalled Doha talks on world trade, noting that "in too many languages, Doha is a four-letter word."

"It is a moral failing of the rich world that our agricultural markets are subsidized and protected. Wouldn’t it be an auspicious sign of our times if the contemporary catalysts for freer trade, traditional and digital, were China and India? It would show definitively that the world was no longer run by a rich man’s club," he said.

Murdoch noted that China must expect more criticism as it takes its place on the world stage as a superpower, but that it should not over-react to such criticism.

"I’ve had some personal experience of that phenomenon. A cursory search of the Internet will throw up some rather vigorous and vitriolic criticism of this curious character called Rupert Murdoch. But myth is, in the end, not material. A preconception is not a personality," he said.

"As China emerges, it will be the subject of more criticism, in the true sense of the word. The people in this hall will sometimes be doing the critiquing. My personal advice is not to take it personally."