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CON GAMES: Rupert Murdoch's iPad Paywall

07/26/2010 11:44 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

ASPEN, COLORADO--Paywall love is a beautiful thing in the media business--the belief of working journalists that if they charge for content the good old days that never were will grow back like ivy at Wrigley Field.

Jon Miller, chief digital bottlewasher at News Corp., is a true believer in paywalls because his company stands behind the best and the brightest at the Wall Street Journal. Miller made clear at the Forbes Brainstorm conference here that paywalls are next to godliness for News Corp., if only because the Journal stands alone.

The only problem the News Corp. empire has no other meaningful paywall just yet--unless you count The Times of London and The Sun, both part of Rupert Murdoch's empire in England, who both started their experiments moments ago. And the Journal also represents a false positive when it comes to consumers paying for content, because the Journal is actionable need-to-know business information and not the local lunch menu. You should also keep in mind that Dow Jones has had a successful online business going back to the 1970s, and a business wire ideal for online consumption. Other than the Financial Times, there is no analogy to Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal in the Murdoch empire or anywhere else. As of now Rupert's vanity Journal is the exception the rule.

But fear not, Murdoch lovers, because News Corp. and the other elephants are about to get a second chance to do this online thing right. Their putative savior is the tablet in its various forms: as Miller said, the iPad and its iLK will give the media biz a chance to "re-set" and "do over" their entry into a digital world, no doubt learning that if you give it all away no one will pay for it.

In short, to build on Miller's thesis for News Corp., the iPad is the paywall. What's not to love?