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News Consumers To Hit Pay Walls

Slowly but surely, the Web is becoming a more costly place for news consumers everywhere. As The New York Times' "metered" pay wall fast approaches, The Times (UK) and Sunday Times of London have announced plans to begin charging readers by June.

For domestic and international readers alike, the News Corp.-owned papers will soon charge about $1.50 for a day's access, and about $3.00 for a weeklong subscription.

Rebekah Brooks, chief executive News Corp.'s News International unit, tells the BBC that the move was "a crucial step towards making the business of news an economically exciting proposition."

Exciting or not, "With newspaper sales in decline, companies have been searching for a business model that will make money from their websites," the BBC notes. "But with so much news content available for free on the internet, NI's decision to charge is seen by many people as a high risk strategy."

As The New York Times notes, "The decision puts the two publications alongside a small but growing number of news organizations charging readers to access content online." They include The Wall Street Journal -- also owned by News Corp. -- The Financial Times, Newsday, and, likely by early next year, The New York Times.

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Of late, "Newspapers in Western Europe and the United States have been battered by the recession while fighting a structural shift in their business from paid-for newspapers to largely free news on the Web," Reuters adds.

Meanwhile, a more direct Financial Times states: "Newspapers' websites have largely failed to attract advertising revenue to counterbalance plummeting ad sales in print and falling circulation of newspapers ... Global newspaper advertising revenue fell 14 per cent last year, according to Carat, Aegis Group's media agency, and is expected to fall a further 2.9 per cent this year."

The Financial Times -- which, again, is one of the few publications that presently charges online readers -- also makes note of a global survey by Nielsen published last month, which found that a third of web users would "consider" paying to access newspapers' online.

Read the whole story at BBC News et al. »

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