Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Times launches paywall site

The Times and Sunday Times newspapers have launched redesigned websites, as it prepares to charge for online content. The new site,, will replace its current website Times Online. Users will be obliged to pay £1 [$1.43] for a day's access and £2 [$2.87] for a week's subscription starting in June. It is a move that will be watched by the news industry.

Times Editor James Harding said it was time to stop "giving away" journalism in the two newspapers. However he said News International was "clearly aware" they were taking a big step.

Talking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Harding said, "Our feeling is that it is time to stop giving away our journalism. That's because we feel that we are undermining the value of our journalism, undermining the value of the Times and undermining the perception that journalism and news has a value."

Even News International expects to lose up to 90% of its online readership. "I think we are going to lose a large number of readers who are window shoppers," he said. Recent figures show that The Times and Sunday Times had about 1.22 million daily users.  The Wall Street Journal, also owned by News International, has one of the most successful paid-for sites with about 407,000 electronic subscribers. But some analysts point out that the WSJ offers specialist content, and that charging for general news is a different business model.

In a survey of 1,592 people living in the UK by Entertainment Media Research, more than 90% said they were unwilling to pay to access a range of news websites offered by The Times.

The new site has been completely redesigned and is far less cluttered than the old one. "It looks a lot like a newspaper, which I don't think we're apologising for," said Tom Whitwell, assistant editor of The Times. When charging begins, The Times' stories will no longer be visible in search engine results, which often provide the biggest source of traffic for any website.

Douglas McCabe, an analyst at Enders, said The Times sites were likely to attract a lot of initial interest from curious readers. "But it's what [the traffic] looks like in six months' time that matters," McCabe said.

News Corporation, the parent company of The Times, has said that its other titles, The Sun and The News of the World, will begin charging for their online content later this year. Rebekah Brooks, the company's chief executive, describes this as a "defining moment for journalism".
[BBC/FT/Times/Guardian/Telegraph blog Aug2009]

tvnewswatch, Beijing, China

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