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Pay to read 'The Times' online from June

March 26, 2010 15:47 IST

Media baron Rupert Murdoch's News International (NI) has announced that readers will have to pay to access the online content of its two flagship titles, The Times and The Sunday Times, from June.

Some papers in the US already charge for such content, but the move has created ripples in the news industry in the UK, where newspaper circulation has been declining for years. Currently, all major newspapers and the BBC News website offer free content.

From June, readers of The Times and The Sunday Times will need to pay one pound for a day's access and two pounds for a week's subscription.

The success or otherwise of the move is being watched closely by the news 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. The two new sites will be available for a free trial period to registered customers.

Payment will give customers access to both sites. James Harding, editor of The Times, said the move had risks. "But it's less of a risk than just throwing away our journalism and giving it away from free," he told the BBC.

He likened the news industry to the music industry of four years ago. "People said the game is up for the music industry because everyone is downloading for free. But now people are buying from download sites."

Brooks said the decision to charge came "at a defining moment for journalism...We are proud of our journalism and unashamed to say that we believe it has value. "This is just the start.

The Times and The Sunday Times are the first of our four titles in the UK to move to this new approach. We will continue to develop our digital products and to invest and innovate for our customers."

Prasun Sonwalkar in London
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