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Paid Content Under Scrutiny At Allen & Co Kickoff

The annual Allen & Co. confab of media and technology power brokers is underway in Sun Valley, Idaho. The event is not open to the press, but Financial Times writer Kenneth Li reckons that much of this year's debate will center around the idea of charging Web users for content, as the US recession, now in its 19th month, is forcing these media titans to revisit the free-versus-paid argument over content and services.

Most newspapers, for example, have been giving away their content for free for well over a decade now, but are now struggling with the issue of charging readers. The same issue has plagued the bosses of cable networks, who will look to Time Warner's TV Everywhere initiative, which helps preserve their relationship with the cable distributors that supply them with a steady, lucrative revenue stream.

As Li says, "At stake is nothing less than the future of television shows and movies on digital platforms at a time when online viewing is exploding, but still remains a minuscule percentage of overall television viewing."

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