Pay­walls dou­ble in 2012

Newspapers & Technology Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - By Chuck Mooza­kis Ed­i­tor-in-chief

Gan­nett Co. Inc. com­pleted the roll­out of me­tered pay­walls across its U.S. Com­mu­nity Pub­lish­ing unit and said the ini­tia­tive will reach its tar­get of con­tribut­ing $100 mil­lion to op­er­at­ing in­come in 2013.

Speak­ing be­fore the UBS Global Me­dia and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Con­fer­ence, USCP Pres­i­dent Bob Dickey said me­ters are now in place across 78 lo­cal pub­lish­ing mar­kets. “Early re­sults in­di­cate we are solidly on the right track,” he said. Dickey added that the unit is see­ing sub­scrip­tion rev­enue growth of 21 per­cent, on av­er­age, de­pend­ing on the tim­ing of the launch.

More than 950,000 Gan­nett sub­scribers have pur­chased dig­i­tal plans, with dig­i­tal-only subs to­tal­ing 40,000, ac­cord­ing to Poyn­ter.org.

GCI be­gan erect­ing pay­walls in se­lected mar­kets in 2010, and later said it would ramp up the strat­egy group­wide by the end of 2012.

KC, Char­lotte pa­pers join

McClatchy Co., mean­time, told News & Tech that all of its 28 daily pa­pers — in­clud­ing met­ros Mi­ami Her­ald, Kansas City (Mo.) Star, Char­lotte (N.C.) Observer and flag­ship Sacra­mento (Calif.) Bee — had me­ters in place by Dec. 31. The pub­lisher last year said it would ramp up its dig­i­tal sub­scrip­tion strat­egy, which is an­chored by soft­ware from Press +.

Lee En­ter­prises is also close to mov­ing its more than 50 daily news­pa­pers be­hind a me­tered pay­wall. The pub­lisher said that sub­stan­tially all of its dailies would charge read­ers to ac­cess on­line con­tent. Lee’s big­ger pa­pers, in­clud­ing the St. Louis PostDis­patch and (Tuc­son) Ari­zona Star, have yet to make the switch.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Land­mark Me­dia En­ter­prises, which now has pay­walls across two of its dailies, said it will ex­tend the pro­gram to the rest of its prop­er­ties — in­clud­ing The Roanoke (Va.) Times and (Nor­folk) Virginian-Pi­lot, later this year.

LME will be joined by The Philadel­phia Inquirer and (Philadel­phia) Daily News, which will kick off pay sites linked to the in­di­vid­ual pa­pers early this year.

In­ter­state Gen­eral Me­dia, which owns the pa­pers, will con­tinue to make philly.com a free site; it’s the same strat­egy The Bos­ton Globe and, most re­cently, The Hous­ton Chron­i­cle, have taken with their dual web­site ap­proach. Hal­i­fax Me­dia Group, which now prints more than 30 pa­pers, also plans to roll out me­tered pay­walls in 2013, as does E.W. Scripps, which now has pay­walls in place across only two of its 14 dailies.

Cana­dian ef­forts

In Canada, Sun Me­dia in De­cem­ber launched me­tered pay­walls across it daily pa­pers in Toronto, Ot­tawa, Win­nipeg, Cal­gary and Ed­mon­ton.

The dailies, all of which are called the Sun, join two other Sun

Me­dia pa­pers, Jour­nal de Mon­treal and Jour­nal de Que­bec, with me­ters.

With the ad­di­tion of the Sun Me­dia pa­pers, 17 ma­jor Cana­dian dailies now have pay­walls. The Toronto Star and five pa­pers owned by Post­media said they will all launch some sort of pay­wall in 2013. News & Tech now lists close to 400 North Amer­i­can news­pa­pers with pay­walls in place.

Fi­nally, pay­wall hold­out The Washington Post may be chang­ing its mind as the pa­per re­ported it will “prob­a­bly start charg­ing on­line read­ers for ac­cess” to sto­ries in the mid­dle of 2013.

Ad­vance Pub­li­ca­tions and Jour­nal Reg­is­ter Co. are among the last re­main­ing ma­jor pub­lish­ers to forgo pay­walls.

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