News Corporation will begin charging readers for online versions of its UK-based The Times and Sunday Times newspapers from June, in a move that chairman Rupert Murdoch hopes will spur other publishers to shift away from free news content on the internet.
Murdoch had said in August 2009 that all News Corp newspaper websites – including the Sun, News of the World, Times and Sunday Times in the UK – will charge readers for their content by next year, a sign that the news industry in the US and the UK is running out of options as major newspapers see their advertising revenue plummet. (See: Murdoch's News Corp to charge readers for online content)
News Corp will be launching two new sites - www.thetimes.co.uk and www.thesundaytimes.co.uk in May and offer readers a free trial period to registered customers before switching to a pay model in June.
News Corp will be charging £1 per day or £2 for a week for accessing the two new sites, while subscribers to the print versions will get free access. The amount will give subscribers access to both sites.
The company said today that The Times and Sunday Times will be the first of four News International titles in the UK that will move to an online pay model.
Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, News Corp's UK subsidiary, said that two other British papers of News International, the Sun and the News of the World, will also charge online readers.
Sunday Times has a print readership of 3.2 million, while The Times has 1.7 million.
"At a defining moment for journalism, this is a crucial step toward making the business of news an economically exciting proposition," Brooks said in a statement. ''We are proud of our journalism and unashamed to say that we believe it has value,'' she added.