UK regional paper publisher to charge for web access

Filed as News on November 30, 2009 3:24 pm

Local news publishers in the UK have had a fairly hard time of it recently, hit by falling readership and reduced advertising revenue, but now one of Britain’s largest regional newspaper publishers is to begin charging users to read full stories on six of its titles’ websites.

Johnston Press will charge £5 (about $8) for three months full access to content on the Worksop Guardian, Ripley & Heanor News, Whitby Gazette, Northumberland Gazette, Carrick Gazette and Southern Reporter.

Readers who don’t wish to subscribe will be given access to excerpts and then encouraged to buy the paper copy to read the full stories.

Given that the publisher owns some 300 titles across the UK, this is a fairly small experiment, although some of its other titles, such as The Scotsman, already offer this sort of subscription model.

It’s another move from traditional media companies seeking to monetise content in an increasingly online world. Time will tell whether it works.

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  1. By Michael Leung posted on November 30, 2009 at 3:36 pm
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    Is there any example to show that paywalls actually work and make money? What happens in readership then? Just wondering, seeing as a lot of papers now are trying to implement this.

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  2. By Franky Branckaute posted on November 30, 2009 at 10:52 pm
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    Michael, I live in one of the areas where is JP active. Although our region will not be subject to the fee (yet), I can see it work for JP. The local newspaper is rather popular and sells out in many news agents on a regular basis but the website is nothing more than an extension with exactly the same content as the paper itself. Most online articles are scheduled and there are generally 3 updates/day.

    I think that charging in this case could work as no genuine news alternative available is (yet) and although the paper still popular is more and more people are shifting to the free online version. On a local forum there are several people who have already said they would pay for access.
    Would they start to buy more print again? Maybe not but at least JP would have a small return to the cost of the online version.
    JP is also highly indebted (more than £400m debts), every penny counts.

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