Murdoch to charge for access to newspapers' websites

Rupert Murdoch expects to start charging for access to his newspapers' websites, with plans set to be put in motion within a year.

Publishing...

Rupert Murdoch expects to start charging for access to his newspapers' websites, with plans set to be put in motion within a year.

Publishing companies are facing plunging advertising revenues and falling reader numbers, leading to a desperate need for a new business model. While internet advertising can plug some of the gap, companies are increasingly finding it won't be enough.

Murdoch's vast media empire, which includes The Sun and The Times, has not been immune, with News Corporation's quarterly operating profits falling by 47% to £755m. Sales of assets boosted pre-tax profits to $1.7bn.

Murdoch thinks the worst of the recession could be over, with parts of his business "beginning to look healthier". But the newspaper division struggled, with many titles, including the Sunday Times, only just in profit. Television advertising was also hit.

The recession has hit the media hard, with many vulnerable regional newspapers weathering drastic cuts and with some even folding. Paid-for internet content may turn out to be the only option open to some titles if they are to turn the industry's fortunes around.

Some optimism has been kindled by the success of the Wall Street Journal, which charges for its content on the web. The Financial Times also charges for access to many of its stories.

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