Gawker posts an article today on Fox News banning its clips from YouTube.  Their first assumption, one that’s shared in the liberal blogging community, was to assume Fox was targeting liberal bloggers. 

Which, granted, these clips did belong to Fox, and they were well in their rights to have them taken down, as specified by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. So how do we know this is a politically-motivated move by Fox to hinder the liberal blogosphere's ability to make fun of them? Because plenty of Fox News clips are still available on YouTube—only on conservative-leaning channels: GlennBeckDailyClips, for example has more than 630 clips of, well, the Glenn Beck Program. And ConservativeNation has 186 stomach-churning videos from the whole spectrum of quality Fox News programing. Also: Duh, Fox News would totally do something like this.

Well it turns out that isn’t something Fox News would totally do.  From an update to the original Gawker post…

It appears that both GlennbeckClipsDaily and ConservativeNation YouTube accounts are now "suspended". A commenter claiming to be the owner of ConservativeNation says: "it seems as though Fox is hell bent getting ALL their clips off You Tube..I don't think this is aimed specifically at liberals." That could certainly be true—but the fact that these accounts didn't go down until after this article went up still suggests a preference for targeting liberal channels. (ConservativeNewMedia—a popular conservate channel that wasn't mentioned originally in this article—remains active. Let's see it it goes down now!)

 

So it wasn’t about liberal bloggers after all (and Gawker thinks way too much of it's relative importance).  But once you know this isn't about politics the story that emerges is an even bigger one.  Try this: Combine Fox News cracking down on YouTube clips with the story from earlier this week in which Rupert Murdoch (Chairman of News Corp. which owns Fox News) said he intended to block Google from crawling News Corp’s content in “a few months”.  Now we get a story with far bigger implications.

The real story here is that Rupert Murdoch wasn't bluffing.  He's no longer content to sit on the digital media sidelines with the rest of the mainstream media. 

For years the traditional media has been trying to find a way to profit off the digital age.  Embracing digital media to a small extent and hoping it will eventually grow into something that will produce as much profit as their traditional revenue model.  But it hasn’t worked and it’s pretty clear it never will.  The New York Times has embraced the web more than any other media company and their net profits are in a free fall. 

So the traditional media has been stuck between a rock and a hard place.  The web’s takeover seems  inevitable but the traditional media operations can’t survive as web only businesses.

Which is why Rupert Murdoch is making his stand.  He’s going to fight to preserve his traditional market and take the risk of losing out on being a dominant web company.  That means blocking Google, banning YouTube clips, and so on…

When you think about it, despite all the web pundits who condemn him, the strategy isn’t a bad one.  News Corp. can’t survive as a web company anyway so embracing the web (like the New York Times has done) doesn’t get him where he wants to go. 

So why not try to preserve the market he has?  It’s unlikely it will work but if it does he’s a king and if it doesn’t he’ll just lose his money in the same way he would have had he embraced the web.  When you really think about it there’s almost no risk.