Paying to Read the News

You probably heard yesterday about plans for The Times to start charging for access to its website from June this year.

Its something many newspapers have been debating for a while – how best to make money. With sales of the actual papers falling along with money brought in by advertising, to continue providing a free service simply isn’t good enough any more.

Owner of the paper, News International say that it will cost £1 a day or £2 a week. This is actually quite reasonable, because we’re talking a paper which costs in the region of £1 a day – it would be cheaper in the long term to pay £2 a week to access the website than it would to pay £1 a day for the actual paper (or for a day’s access to the website).

But the question is: will it work? Torin Douglas, media correspondant at the BBC says:

Privately, executives admit the two papers are likely to lose thousands of regular online readers – and millions of more casual ones – because there’ll still be plenty of news and comment on other websites, free of charge. But they hope £2 a week is a small enough sum to entice many readers over the paywall.

Quoted from Torin Douglas
BBC News

We musn’t forget of course, that news doesn’t come for free. Training journalists costs money, paying journalists costs money, and recruiting the best journalists in order to provide a high quality news service costs money. The difference is that you have to pay to buy a newspaper, and there aren’t many that charge for access to their websites. With websites becoming quite an important part of many people’s lives, the papers need to find a way to make money from them.

I don’t think that charging for access would harm The Times and owner NI too much – statistically, people are more likely to get divorced than change which paper they read (apart from perhaps journalists ;)), and their loyal followers will more than likely pay for the privilage to read the news online.

I’m not actually too keen on the websites of some newspapers however. There’s so many different sections to their sites that they’re hard to navigate sometimes. I’ll read news online occasionally, but I stick mainly to the BBC News website for that. I prefer to buy newspapers if I want to read another news source (I quite like The Telegraph and The Guardian)… and having the russelling of a newspaper whilst sat at a microphone sounds much better than the sound of a computer/clicking of a mouse!

What do you think of The Times’ plans? Are you willing to pay to access news online when there are other sources which will be free? Or are you a “loyal fan” of The Times? Leave your comments using the form below, or e-mail

Fred Hart

Stock Controller and Radio Presenter/Producer

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