The Times

The Times

So, The Times and Sunday Times have today announced they’ll be charging for content on their websites (note the link is to the guardian, I’m not paying…!) to me this is interesting news. It’s been in the pipeline for a while now, with News Corp’s intention being to move all their online newspaper content into a subscription model over the coming year.

I’m not for a second going to dispute the paper’s right to charge for content – people have to be paid to write it, and it costs the company money to put it on the internet, plus the newspaper’s “old media” audience have paid for it for years, I guess you could argue it’s unfair for them if they’re subsidising an increasingly large number of people who just go and read the news online for free. My real question is who’s going to pay for it? As I mentioned – the “old media” audience are already paying, and presumably are quite happy with the platform on which they’re receiving the news (otherwise they’d have been getting it online already, for free). Anyone else is perfectly able to look at the huge number of other websites (a number of them rival newspapers, not to mention by far the best news agency in the UK, The BBC) who aren’t insisting on a subscription, or better still use a news aggregator (like google news) to give them a huge choice of sources for a particular story.

So, who’s going to pay the pound a day, or 2 pounds a week (which I agree isn’t a lot of money if it proves to be a decent service as Murdoch has promised) – the answer has to be those who enjoy the things they can only get in the Times, specifically the opinion columnists. The times actually has some fairly good columns with some familiar faces, and some experts sharing informed opinions (alongside some utter drivel as well, but that’s comment!) and if anyone’s going to pay for The Times Online it’ll be those who really enjoy reading these columns each week.

But will they, that’s really the question – and one which only time will tell. As for me, I’m ok as the three columns I actually read on a semi-regular basis (Charlie Brooker, David Mitchell and Bad Science as you’re interested) are all in The Guardian/Observer – who (as far as I’m aware) have no plans to start charging at the time of writing…

(incidentally – recommendations of other comment based reading welcomed!)

(Photo: tripu on flikr)