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News Corp Taking Times of London Behind Paywall

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is starting to make good on its threats to take some of its major mass market newspapers behind paywalls in an effort to generate revenue directly from subscribers, rather than relying solely on online advertising. Starting this June, News Corp will take Britain’s the and The Sunday Times—which share a Web site—behind a paywall, charging £ for one days’ access, or £2 for a full week’s access. Payment will give customers access to both papers’ sites, while the weekly subscription will provide access to “e-paper” editions and “certain new applications.” Paid print subscribers will also have access to all digital services as part of their subscriptions.

“These new sites, and the apps that will enhance the experience, reflect the identity of our titles and deliver a terrific experience for readers,” said News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, in a statement. “At a defining moment for journalism, this is a crucial step towards making the business of news an economically exciting proposition. We are proud of our journalism and unashamed to say that we believe it has value.”

News Corp says the Times and The Sunday Times are “just the start,” and expects to convert additional UK papers to a paywall model in the future. In the UK, News Corp also publishes The Sun and News of the World.

The move makes the papers the first major British newspapers to go behind a paywall. News Corp has been urging the newspaper industry to adopt a paywall model that prevents its content from being available for free to non-subscribers via the Internet. While New Corp has had success with this model with The Wall Street Journal and its specialized business content, nobody really knows how many news consumers will be willing to pay for newspaper content online, or whether they’ll simply migrate to other free news sources.

While The Wall Street Journal is the only major U.S. paper currently behind a paywall, The New York Times has announced plans to go behind a paywall in 2011. France’s Le Monde also announced earlier this week that it plans to begin charging for some online content next week.

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