June 14, 2010 / 7:03 PM / in 7 years

News Corp buys e-reader company Skiff

NEW YORK (Reuters) - News Corp branched into the digital reader market with the acquisition of Skiff, a Hearst-backed company that helps distribute newspaper and magazine content to e-readers and other devices.

News Corp also said on Monday it made an investment in Journalism Online, a company that helps publishers reap revenue from online news.

The financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.

News Corp’s latest investments underscore the company’s seriousness about charging for online news and delivering content on various devices.

News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch has been vocal about plans to make readers pay for online news, hoping to follow the model of the company’s Wall Street Journal online subscription plan. The Times of London, a News Corp property, implemented a subscription plan for its news website in June.

The deal for Skiff includes only the software distribution platform and does not include its e-reader device, which has not yet gone on sale to the public. The market for devices has become increasingly crowded, with competition from the likes of Amazon’s Kindle, Sony Corp Reader, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Apple’s iPad tablet.

Through Skiff, News Corp is hoping to be better positioned to distribute its content not only to the crowded field of e-readers but also to smartphones and netbooks.

Journalism Online was founded by former Wall Street Journal Publisher L. Gordon Crovitz, Court-TV founder Steven Brill and former cable executive Leo Hindery Jr.

The company offers to help publishers charge for content in a variety of ways, including subscriptions and micropayments to access individual articles.

News Corp also named Jon Housman to the newly created position of president of digital journalism initiatives.

Reporting by Jennifer Saba; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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