Murdoch predicts death of print unions; Media magnate says ad revenue recovering...

Murdoch hails electronic reading devices

By Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson and Kenneth Li in New York

Published: September 15 2009 18:51 | Last updated: September 15 2009 22:40

Rupert Murdoch, a proprietor known for having ink in his veins, has hailed the day when electronic reading devices will do away with the need for newsprint and the costs that go with it.

Devices such as Amazon.com’s Kindle and Sony’s Reader could take 20 years to displace newspapers, the News Corp chairman told Goldman Sachs’ annual media conference, “but I do certainly see the day when more people will be buying their newspapers on portable reading panels than on crushed trees”.

Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch: 'We're going to have no paper'

“Then we’re going to have no paper, no printing plants, no unions,” said Mr Murdoch, who battled printing unions at his Wapping plant in London more than 20 years ago. “It’s going to be great.”

His comments came as he and Jeff Zucker, chief executive of NBC Universal, gave the most bullish appraisal of advertising spending yet seen in the US media industry.

“Almost in every property at the moment [there is] a slight lift,” Mr Murdoch said. “It’s very much better than it was a couple of months ago. It’s everywhere,” he added, highlighting an 8 per cent fall in revenues at News Corp’s television stations in September, compared with an expected 20 per cent decline for the year to date.

Mr Zucker was more cautious, but said: “There’s no question – advertising feels better.”

Spending in the “scatter” market – advertising space sold once the broadcast season is already underway – was “a little healthier” while NBC Universal’s local TV business had stabilised, he said.

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