NY Times considers charging for website access

NEW YORK: The New York Times Company is considering charging a fee for access to its website, and has begun asking its print edition subscribers how such a charge would affect their subscriptions.

In a survey targeting existing subscribers, the media company said it was "considering charging a monthly fee of five dollars to access its content, including all its articles, blogs and multimedia."

The survey then asks: "How likely would you be to pay a 2.50 dollar monthly fee -- which would be a 50 percent discount for home delivery subscribers -- for continued, unlimited access to nytimes.com?"

At present, users can access all content on the nytimes.com website for free, but the company has experimented with access charges before.

In 2005, it launched Times Select, which charged a fee for access to some opinion and editorial content, but it shut the program down two years later.

The proposal described by the survey Thursday suggested a much broader attempt to increase revenue for the media company, amid falling profits across the industry.

Company spokeswoman Catherine Mathis said that a monthly access fee was only one possibility being considered.

"We are doing research on a variety of scenarios," Mathis told AFP.

The survey Thursday seemed designed to gauge the effect of additional charges on The New York Times' existing print subscription base, asking subscribers to respond to a series of assertions about possible fees.

Respondents were asked to click on a range of options from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree" in response to statements including: "I would gladly pay for access to nytimes.com in order to support the Times' quality journalism" and "I think it is wrong for The New York Times to charge anyone for access to nytimes.com."