2009 was the year of heavy debate about how and what to charge for online content. The copyleft (loosening rights) in one corner and the copyright (paywalls), headed by Rupert Murdoch in the other. The debate may be a little bit less vocal now, but this does not mean things have not moved on. A number of newspapers have experimented with payment and now the Times is looking to start charging for it’s content.
It may well be that no final decision has been taken by executives at News International. The company declined to comment before deadline. “I think they going to introduce it – from what I have been told it’s likely to be around May or June,” said Rob Lynam, head of press trading at planning and buying agency Mediaedge:cia. via Times paywall could start in May, say media buyers | Media | guardian.co.uk.
Major newspapers adopting fees for online content will prove an important test. So far the only success stories have been publications where the value of the content was driven by its importance for businesses. For example, the content in the Financial Times can drive business decisions that can help drive revenue. This makes the content valuable. For more general interest articles and especially for news, this unique value of the content has yet to be proven. With readership declining for print issues and readership at stake for online versions these steps will have a big impact on those licensing digital media content.