Charging for newspapers online: Now pay up – Newspapers have plenty of options for charging online, but no sure bets

If newspaper bosses keep their promises, the next few months will see a decisive retreat from free news online. This summer senior figures at big media firms such as News Corporation, Axel Springer Verlag and MediaNews Group have all threatened to start charging. Companies representing more than 700 newspapers have expressed interest in the online-payment platforms being developed by Journalism Online, an American start-up.It will not be easy. For ten years readers have been enjoying free news online, and the BBC, public-radio stations and commercial television-news outfits such as CNN will continue to supply it. A newspaper that tries to charge will jeopardise online advertising, which often accounts for 10-15% of revenues. But if the obstacles are many so are the potential solutions.

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