- 11 May 09, 09:00 GMT
What will you pay for these days in terms of news and entertainment?
This is a question that's troubling media executives around the world as they battle the twin threats of falling revenues and the spread of free content online, whether put there deliberately or "shared" by consumers.
And in the UK, they're turning for inspiration to one industry which has never been particularly web-savvy but which has shown that it can wring huge amounts of cash from consumers, and which doesn't appear to be suffering much from the recession. That industry is football.
Among the media barons named by the Sunday Times yesterday as pressing Lord Carter to impose a stronger anti-piracy code on internet service providers, I noticed Richard Scudamore's name. He runs not a record business, nor a newspaper or a TV channel, but the Premier League.
It has been extraordinarily successful in getting fans - largely via satellite TV subscriptions rather than at the turnstile - to pay, rather than expecting something for nothing.
While Mr Scudamore believes that his is a media content industry like any other, others across the media landscape have been eager to work out whether they can imitate football's success in turning content into cash.
So what's the recipe?
It seems to be all about providing compelling material that avid consumers really want - and making sure they can't get it elsewhere. I think it would be difficult for any fan to dispute that the quality of football played in the Premiership is better than what we saw 20 years ago. While the influx of the world's most talented players may or may not have damaged the England side, it's certainly improved the football played by the top teams.
Of course, that's happened because of the huge inflow of cash from one source - satellite television - which has paid for the transformation of the game. Over the last two decades, the financial health of BSkyB and that of the Premiership have marched in tandem. And both have worked hard to protect their content from reaching those not prepared to pay for it.
Sky's big investment in encryption technology has been pretty successful in limiting the numbers who can watch illicitly. In recent years, fans wanting to watch football without paying a satellite subscription have turned to the internet - but the Premier League has been vigorous in the defence of its copyright, notably in its ongoing lawsuit against YouTube.
It has ignored the fashionable doctrine that the important thing is to first get your product onto as many platforms as possible, and then to start thinking about how to make money.
Football, though, has one advantage over other media - fans are prepared to pay an awful lot more to see it live rather than waiting even a couple of hours for highlights. And one thing the beautiful game has never done - at least since it woke up to the value of its TV rights - is give anything away for free.
So can the newspaper, movie and music businesses learn anything by looking at the Premier League - can they too get consumers to pay for compelling content by making sure there are no alternative means to get it?
That will be hard because none has the monopoly power enjoyed by the Premier League, and all are struggling to build new fences around content which is already roaming free. True, music is finding that the one thing fans will pay for is "live" - more and more bands are now seeing albums as little more than marketing campaigns for their next tour.
But will newspaper buyers really pay to get breaking news? Only if it is not available elsewhere, and it's difficult to see the world's news providers, amateur and professional, all agreeing to move to a subscription model at once.
And before imitating the Premier League too closely, perhaps they should ask who has really benefited from the football boom. Most clubs still struggle to make a profit, and fans are paying a lot more at the ground and in their TV subscriptions.
So the real winners are the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Dider Drogba, whose £130,000-a-week salaries have been made possible by the Premiership's success in marketing its TV rights and protecting its copyright.
Music fans, news junkies and movie buffs are all benefiting hugely from online distribution - largely without paying. They will be hoping that other media industries don't learn too much from the Premier League.
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