After discussing plans to erect an online and digital pay wall for over a year, The New York Times is finally going to begin charging online readers for access to certain kinds of content, according to chairman and publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., who reaffirmed the venerable newspaper's plans at a conference hosted by the Financial Times in London on Wednesday.
Sulzberger told the conference the NYT will launch a metered model, which will require heavy users to pay for access after reading a number of articles for free, "very shortly." Some reports have indicated that the NYT metered model will cost heavy users less than $20 per month, making it less expensive than the newspaper's subscription model for the Amazon Kindle.
The pay wall -- the result of a $40 million to $50 million investment -- is apparently still scheduled to go live sometime this month.
In January, Bloomberg reported that the NYT was rushing to iron out technical glitches in the system for administering paid access to the Web site, with 500 problems revealed by tests already fixed -- leaving 200 more to go. (It's not clear how many of these still remain to be fixed now, over a month later).
Bloomberg cited a person familiar with the tests as saying the glitches included determining who has to pay for which content, as well as how many articles a person can view before they have to start paying.
The newspaper also plans to begin charging for access to its iPad app, according to Sulzberger, who noted: "We can no longer have that being free." The task of monetizing the newspaper's iPad edition has been made easier by Apple's introduction in mid-February of a subscription sales system covering newspapers, video, music and other kinds of content.
The subscription model -- the same used for News Corp.'s recently launched digital newspaper "The Daily" -- allows users to buy subs through Apple's App Store. Most publishers were previously limited to single-copy sales, making it more difficult for digital editions to gain traction with iPad owners.