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Murdoch admits delays on paywall scheme

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Rupert Murdoch has confirmed that his company is unlikely to hit its June deadline for putting up paywalls around its newspaper websites.

Murdoch also seemed to confirm that the move to charging for online content would not be made by News Corp alone but with several major publishers acting together (not as a cartel, of course, that wouldn't be legal).

A reporter for the Daily Telegraph asked Murdoch how the move to charging was going, Roy Greenslade reports in the Guardian.

"We are working very, very hard at this but I wouldn't promise that we're going to meet that date," Murdoch replied. "I'm not prepared to comment on that all. It's a work in progress. There's a huge amount of work going on, not just with our sites, but with other people like your company."

Murdoch said back in August that he would be charging for all his papers, from the Sun to The Times.

But of course it is difficult to treat Murdoch's comments with too much cynicism - he could be talking to wrongfoot his competitors, or just to shake up his own executives.

The company today posted revenues for the first quarter of $7.19bn and net income of $577m. Murdoch said he was pleased with the "exceptionally strong results" but still felt the recovery was fragile.

Murdoch also confirmed that moribund social networking site MySpace had missed targets agreed with Google and therefore would not be getting the full payments. The deal, signed in 2006, was meant to bring in $900m.

The UK newspaper group saw lower operating income in the first quarter thanks to a 15 per cent fall in ad revenues and a six per cent decline in revenues. ®

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