Newsday to Charge $5 Per Week for Web Access

newsdayNewsday plans to start charging $5 a week for access to its Web site in a move that could generate more revenue but risks driving away readers.

The new fees will begin next Wednesday. Those who already subscribe to the Long Island daily’s print edition or to Optimum Online, the Internet access service offered by Newsday parent company Cablevision Systems Corp., will still have free access to the Web site.

Those who don’t subscribe will get limited access to the Web site for free — namely, the home page, classified ads, weather, movies, stocks, obituaries, school closings and community programs.

Cablevision, which acquired Newsday from Tribune Co. last year, indicated in February that it was contemplating Web access fees.

Newspaper publishers are increasingly considering similar moves as the industry faces an unprecedented drain on ad revenue.

Such a pay wall could push readers to abandon the newspaper’s Web site for free options elsewhere. That, in turn, would drive down the amount of ad revenue the Web site can generate.

Still, the growth of online ad revenue has not kept pace with a print advertising decline that accelerated because of the recession. Many readers and advertisers are shifting to the Web, but competition there is higher and online ad rates are typically much lower than those for print.

To try holding on to readers despite the online fee, Newsday has been adding features to its Web site.

“Over the past few months, you may have noticed that newsday.com began a transformation to become a more dynamic multimedia resource,” Newsday Publisher Terry Jimenez said in a letter to readers.

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