Times promotes Murdoch interests with call for Free Net

Well, that's what we think

The Times dedicated a whole page of its grubby broadsheet newspaper (grubby, since the newsprint ink of this old media rag doth blacken the hands when ruffled) to the Internet war currently raging in Britain. At some length it spelt out how net users in Britain pay an arm and a leg to get online because unlike the US, for example, they have to pay by the minute. The Times even reserved the top slot in its leader column to comment on the lamentable state of Net access in Britain. "FREE THE NET -- Britain's Internet future is held back by outdated charges" it decreed loftily. "Although there are now more than eight million Net users in Britain, they remain timid creatures compared with their 80 million liberated American counterparts. "What holds British users back is their ever-growing telephone bills. Although with today's digital systems, the most expensive piece of telephony is putting in a line, while keeping it active once installed costs very little, Britain's old-fashioned charging system is geared to a past world of analogue exchanges and copper wire lines." The Times argues, at some length, that the current charging structure is a "disincentive to stay online" which "clearly militates against the development of tomorrow's e-commerce". In effect, The Times makes the case that every Net user in Britain has been banging on about for what seems like an eternity. Surely, with The Times now on the case it can only be a matter of time before the real cost of Net access in Britain is cut and the country's e-future is assured. Well, it would be if News International, parent of its paper sibling, hadn't announced yesterday that it had relaunched its currantbun.com site to become a portal for all its titles -- including The Times. The site, we're told, is to become the launchpad for News International's British domination of cyberspace and part of its mission is to get the rest of the nation's population online. It can only do that if the cost of universal, unlimited Net access is affordable. At the moment, it is not. Far be it for The Register to question the motives of Mr Murdoch's flagship title that it used its considerable weight to promote its own interests…so instead, we'll let our readers do it for themselves. ®

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