The news business: Channel change

LAST November Mike Darcey, then a top executive at BSkyB, a British satellite-television company, received a phone call from Rupert Murdoch, the boss of News Corporation. Mr Murdoch wanted him to run News UK (formerly News International), his scandal-plagued British newspaper unit, even though Mr Darcey had never worked in publishing. “Don’t worry about it,” Mr Murdoch said. “It’s exactly the same” as television.Television and newspapers seem to have little in common. The business of flickering screens is thriving while newspapers are shrinking. So Mr Darcey, who took charge in January, is pushing his titles, including the Sun, a populist tabloid, and the Times, a higher-brow paper, to learn lessons from his former industry.One is not to give away content to some readers while asking others to pay. The Times learnt that lesson in 2010, when it started charging for online content. The Sun started doing so last August. Both papers, historically more dependent on fickle news-stand sales than steadier subscriptions, are trying to entice subscribers so they can have a direct relationship with—and collect more data on—their customers.Pay-TV companies lure and retain subscribers by adding features, such as free films and channels. Mr Darcey thinks newspapers should, too. Earlier this…

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