Times, Sunday Times to charge for online content

LONDON: The Times and The Sunday Times will become the first British newspapers to charge readers to access the titles online from June, Rupert Murdoch’s News International announced today.

Customers will have to pay one pound for one day’s access and two pounds for a week’s subscription, in a move that will be closely watched in a newspaper industry suffering steadily dropping sales.

Both Times titles will launch new websites in early May, replacing the existing combined site, Times Online.

The two new sites will be available for a free trial period to registered customers. Access to the digital services will be included in the seven-day subscriptions of print customers of the two newspapers.

News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks said: “At a defining moment for journalism, this is a crucial step towards making the business of news an economically exciting proposition.

“We are proud of our journalism and unashamed to say that we

believe it has value. This is just

the start. The Times and The Sunday Times are the first of our four titles in the UK to move to this

new approach.” News International, a division of Murdoch’s News Corporation, also owns The Sun tabloid and Sunday tabloid News of the World.

The Financial Times makes readers pay for some online content, while the Wall Street Journal — also part of Murdoch’s media empire — is currently the only major US paper charging readers for full access online.

The New York Times announced in January that it would start charging for online content in early 2011.

The Times and Sunday Times will be the first British titles

to erect a paywall for all online content.

With newspaper sales in decline and advertising increasingly

moving online, owners have

been searching for a business model that will make profits from their websites.

Murdoch announced in August last year that he intended to

start charging for online content from all his newspapers but said he recognised the need to make their online content distinct from other publishers.