Australians more likely to pay for online movies than news

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Australians are more likely to pay for music and movies online than to hand over money to read newspapers on the Internet, a survey released Thursday said.

The Nielsen research found that 51 percent of people would consider paying for movies available online but only 28 percent would likely pay to read newspapers on the web.

"Consumers' attitudes to paying for content are still quite fragmented and highlight just how discriminating Internet audiences can be when it comes to different types of content," Nielsen's Mark Higginson said.

The survey of 500 Australians found that only one percent of consumers have ever paid for Internet-only news and four percent for online newspaper content.

The results come as Australian-born media baron Rupert Murdoch is pushing to stop the flood of news reporting that has until now been available for free on the Internet and begin charging for content contained in his mastheads.

Higgison, who analyses online consumer behaviour in Australia, said the research indicated the difficulties for media groups in migrating their readership from newspapers to online content.

"These kind of numbers suggest it is going to be challenging to move to a purely paid version," he told AFP.

"Twenty-eight percent isn't a revenue supporting number I would say. It is a very niche business model at that."

The survey found that the online products Australians were most willing to pay for were movies (51 percent), books (49 percent), television shows (46 percent), music (44 percent), magazines (43 percent) and games (38 percent).

The lowest scoring product was consumer-generated blogs with only nine percent contemplating paying for such content.

"An overwhelming majority (74 percent) say that paid-for content would have to be significantly better than what is currently available for free online before they would consider paying for it," said Higginson.

Seventy-five percent said there should be no advertising on Internet content for which they have paid, the survey said.

In comments in New York earlier this week, Murdoch defended his plans to charge for online newspaper content, saying news was a product like any other.

"News is like anything you want to sell: if you want people to buy it, you have to give them something they value," said Murdoch, whose News Corp owns The Times in London and The Wall Street Journal.