The Times and Sunday Times newspapers will start charging to access their websites in June, owner News International (NI) has announced. Users will pay £1 for a day’s access and £2 for a week’s subscription.
The move opens a new front in the battle for readership and will be watched closely by the industry.
NI chief executive Rebekah Brooks said it was “a crucial step towards making the business of news an economically exciting proposition”. Both titles will launch new websites in early May, separating their digital presence for the first time and replacing the existing, combined site, Times Online.
News International says its new pricing policy is simple and affordable. That will be for readers to judge. Many of its rivals still believe charging for content will only work for specialist publications, such as the Financial Times or Wall Street Journal.
Privately, executives admit the two papers are likely to lose thousands of regular online readers – and millions of more casual ones – because there’ll still be plenty of news and comment on other websites, free of charge. But they hope £2 a week is a small enough sum to entice many readers over the paywall.