Monday, January 18, 2010

The Times to Erect a Pay Wall

In 2007, The New York Times dropped a pay wall after failing to realize expected revenues. Many online readers breathed a sigh of relief, and continued to enjoy the free online content. Now, however, The Times is planning to "announce the introduction of a so-called 'pay wall' before the much-rumoured launch of Apple's new tablet computer, which is thought to be specially designed for easy newspaper reading, on January 27." This report comes from an article in the Telegraph, a British newspaper. The Telegraph reports that Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the Times Company chairman, favors "a metered use policy similar to The Financial Times, which allows readers to access some articles for free before they are forced to subscribe." The Financial Times is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, as is The Wall Street Journal, which also charges for content. In fact, News Corporation is planning to "introduce charging for all the company's newspaper websites, including The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun and News of the World. My colleague Vicky Gannon, who sent me the link to the Telegraph article, says it's one thing to charge for The Times, but quite another to charge for The Sun and News of the World, which do not exactly qualify as high-quality content. It looks as if paid access to online newspapers is the wave of the future, and in fact newspapers have to make money from their content if they are survive. Advertising revenues are not enough to sustain a major news-gathering operation. "More than 1,200 news organisations worldwide have signed up with Journalism Online, a new media payment firm whose clients are expected to start rolling out fees soon." It's hard to imagine that most people are going to pay for subscriptions to more than one or two newspapers, making it inevitable that some newspapers will simply not be competitive in the online environment.

1 comment:

Marie S. Newman said...

The AP is reporting that The New York Times will start charging for access in 2011: