When the company’s annual results were announced last week, Murdoch stated his intention to spend as much as £1bn on internet acquisitions and that online is now a key part of the media empire’s future strategy. New Corp purchased myspace.com, one of the fastest growing online community sites, last month.
The purchase of Blinkx – which in true Dotcom style was founded by Suranga Chandratillake, a Cambridge computer science graduate – would provide search capacity for the Fox internet portal and could give News Corp the edge in what could be the Next Big Thing: search engines for finding films, TV episodes and news clips.
Murdoch warned a group of US newspaper editors back in April that the industry had been ‘remarkably complacent’ about the impact of internet use of newspaper circulation. He admitted that, ‘I didn’t do as much as I should have after the excitement of the late 1990s. I suspect many of you in this room did the same thing, quietly hoping this thing called the digital revolution would just limp along. Well it hasn’t, it won’t, and it’s a fast-developing reality that we should grab’.
It makes perfect sense for Blinkx to link up with Fox: it already uses video clips from the network. Murdoch, amongst other media commentators, has repeatedly stressed the potential of matching the volume of content produced by a media company such as his with the possibilities of distributing it via the net. Certainly, if the content owners don’t do it there are plenty of peer to peer services, such as Bittorrent, which will do it for them and not necessarily legally. Only yesterday, the BBC found that a Swedish site was distributing unseen episodes of Ricky Gervais’s Extras.