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Johnston Press to trial paywalls

Johnston Press to trial paywalls

Johnston Press, the second largest newspaper owner (measured by weekly circulation) in Britain, has announced it will trial paywalls at six of the company's websites as of Monday in order to test the consumer reaction to charging online, reports Press Gazette.

Six newspapers- the Worksop Guardian, the Ripley & Heanor News, the Whitby Gazette, the Northumberland Gazette, the Carrick Gazette and the Southern Reporter- are expected to take part in the experiment which will prevent readers from viewing content unless they sign up to pay £5 for a three month subscription.

Johnson Press' Scotsman.com already charges users to access its 'premuim content' and the system used for this website will be the model introduced to the participating newspapers during the trial period.

The results of the attempts to charge for the websites will be used to make a wider decision over whether or not paywalls should be rolled out across all Johnston Press newspaper websites, with executives reportedly looking closely at the impact the change has on advertising income and print sales.

In an interview with Press Gazette, Lori Cunningham, Johnston Press digital strategy director, said there were no immediate plans to start charging for web access on its flagship titles, the Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post saying: "Our intention is to just get an understanding of what the customer dynamic is around paid-for content.

"At this stage it's just a trail for us to understand what is happening... We have not set specific thresholds; it is just an opportunity for us to learn about what the consumer are or are not willing to do," Cunningham added.

The news comes as the paid online content debate gathers steam with News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch announcing he intends to introduce paywalls to all his publications in the coming year. Many other news publications are similarly searching for ways in which they can monetize their content in what are financially tough times for the industry.

Some are sceptical that paywalls for online newspapers will work, arguing that it is too late to try to shift the cultural attitude in place that generally associates online news as being free.

Nevertheless, as newspapers struggle to search for new ways to become profitable again, Johnston Press appears to be taking a small leap in testing the paywall waters, and the results of the following three months will be interesting to many publications, and go one step further to decisions over whether or not charging for online news is the way to go.

Source: Press Gazette



Jennifer Lush


2009-11-27 11:26

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