I see one big difference. In those other years, competing media outlets were willing to give away their product for free. This time around plausibly all the major newspapers will follow suit and charge for their content as well. It's like one of those Lester Telser/George Bittlingmayer models except now we are at the point where the major players realize they are all below their average cost curves permanently and they are not willing to incur losses indefinitely. Since we've not yet been in an all-charging equilibrium, we don't know what the price will be. What does the NYT business model look like at $50 a year for access, with price breaks for India?
In that equilibrium does any newspaper gain from defecting and moving back to p = 0? Is there a stable core to the game? Isn't Murdoch simply signaling that all the newspapers ought to collude?
Won't NPR, and NPR.org, be the big winner?
I'm not saying the Murdoch move is going to "work." I am saying that if the game has no core the idea of charging for content will not go away.