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7 May, 2009

Times a-charging

The Guardian reports Rupert ­Murdoch's plan to charging for online access to his newspapers' websites.  As if 'The Sun', 'News Of The World', 'The Times'* or 'The Sunday Times' were worth reading at all.  I didn't think I'd ever agree with Murdoch on anything, but anything which discourages readership of sensationalist lies is to be applauded.

To restate one of my core principles: I will not pay to access content online, under any circumstances – I'll simply visit a free source of the same or comparible content elsewhere. It seems I'm not alone, as 88.4% of respondents to a Guardian poll say they wouldn't pay to read newspapers online, either.

I'm slightly surprised to hear of Murdoch's plan, as this has been tried before, unsuccessfully. For example, 'The New York Times' operated a paid-subscription model for two years, but dismantled it in 2007 citing diminished opportunities for displaying adverts to casual visitors. Is Murdoch suggesting that online advertising has declined to the point of relative insignificance, and that it's potentially less lucrative than selling content directly to a considerably smaller audience?

* That's 'The Times', of course, not 'The London Times' or 'The Times Of London' – worldwide, there's only one daily periodical simply called 'The Times', and it's not based in New York. Though a rather better newspaper is.

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