The Times will charge for its website from June

By | Published on Friday 26 March 2010

The Times today announced it would start charging for access to its websites from June. Despite original rumours The Sunday Times would go the subscription route before the main paper, it seems the paywall will be applied to both titles simultaneously.

The announcement follows months of speculation as to when and how the broadsheet would start charging for its online services, after its owner Rupert Murdoch let it be known he hoped to bring to an end the era of free news analysis on the internet. On confirming the development, News International CEO Rebekah Brooks implied the firm’s other titles, The Sun and News Of The World, would soon follow suit.

The Times will charge a pound a day for access to its website, though there will be a £2 weekly subscription that will also provide access to other services, and the plan seems to be to sign people up to that rather than the day rate.

The news has been met with some derision on Twitter this morning, though with the whole newspaper industry in a state of turmoil, mainly because Google and their likes have taken the bulk of the growing internet advertising market away from the traditional media owners, some argue that the subscription model is the only way forward for the news media.

Said subscription-model advocates add that as all the news groups follow suit, and as extra multimedia and mobile widgets are added into the subscription price, web-users will probably eventually be persuaded to part with some cash. Especially once the BBC website is cut down to size (something which is going to happen with minimum public outrage as us media types all get distracted with the Save 6 campaign). 

Of course, The Guardian has an interesting role to play in all this. They say they won’t go the subscription route. The Guardian is a unique organisation in that it isn’t profit driven, and the mission statement of the wider Guardian Media Group is to make cash to subsidise the company’s loss-making flagship title.

Providing GMG can make money elsewhere, they will continue to pump out Guardian online content for free, which will give them a huge competitive advantage once The Times, Telegraph, Indy et al park their websites behind paywalls. And unlike the BBC, there is nothing Murdoch and his team of lobbyists can do to stop The Guardian from giving news, comment and analysis away gratis. Interesting times.