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Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has once again been banging the free-online-news-for-everyone drum, as his firm closes in on its takeover of the Wall Street Journal.

During a shareholders meeting in Adelaide today, the News Corporation chairman said he would scrap subscription fees on the WSJ website in favour of a free model that he reckoned would push up readership figures and attract a larger number of big name advertisers.

As we reported in September, the Aussie newspaper proprietor had been talking up the newspaper's online future in a bid to keep up with competitors including the New York Times, which has already ditched charges for its online edition.

Speaking about the planned change in business model, Murdoch ambitiously gushed today: "We are studying it and we expect to make that free, and instead of having one million [readers], having at least 10 million to 15 million in every corner of the Earth," reports Associated Press.

News Corp expects to close the deal with WSJ owner Dow Jones and Company by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, overnight the WSJ site became populated with Digg buttons, firing off rumours in the blobbysphere that Murdoch's firm will imminently buy the Web 2.0 news aggregator. ®

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