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Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has shocked the newspaper industry by proclaiming that the free news website model “will soon be over”.

The chief executive of News Corporation, who some fifteen years ago said the future of newspaper revenue was in advertising not in the cover prices, has suggested that his newspapers, which include the UK publishing arm News International’s The Times and The Sun, will soon charge for the use of their websites.

He said: “We are now in the midst of an epochal debate on the value of content and it is clear to many newspapers that the current model is malfunctioning. We have been at the forefront of that debate and you can confidently presume that we are leading the way in finding a model that maximises revenues in return for our shareholders. The current days of the internet will soon be over.”

Murdoch has always been a trendsetter for the industry, almost single-handedly keeping the cost of newspapers down for the best part of 20 years.

It is possible that the rest of the newspaper industry will follow suit and charge for access, however it is a risky model if the rest of the nationals continue to offer their news free of charge.

The losses include depreciation charges related to the presses at Wapping, but also take into account an increase in revenue for several of its newspapers through cover price increases.

Results out today revealed that Murdoch’s London freesheet, Thelondonpaper, has nearly doubled the size of its overdraft (to more than £26m) after it made losses of almost £13m in the 12 months to June 2008, according to accounts filed at Companies House.