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NEWS ACCESS DIGITAL BY AUSTRALIAN NEWSPAPER TO COST

News Ltd will soon charge readers of The Australian $2.95 a week to view all content on its website and mobile phone and tablet applications, as the country’s largest newspaper publisher experiments with alternative sources of revenue in the face of falling advertising receipts.

It will be the first paywall for a general newspaper in Australia, an experiment that has achieved mixed success overseas by newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, the Financial Times and The Economist.

It will follow the approach of News Corp stablemate The Wall Street Journal. Some stories will be able to be read for free while others will need a subscription to be read, most likely to be its analysis and specialised sections.

That approach is aimed at retaining enough readers to keep its digital advertising revenue, while establishing a separate source of funding less buffeted by variations in the advertising market.

It has rejected the strict paywall of The Times in London and The Australian Financial Review, published by Fairfax Media, in Australia.

The Australian Financial Review had the first paywall for a major newspaper here, an expensive one, the future of which is now under review, given poor subscription growth.

News Ltd has planned the move for some time, and will formally announce the details this week.

The move is expected to happen this month, probably to be accompanied by an initial free period.

Most of the other changes were discussed at a briefing for bloggers last night with company executives, including the editor of The Australian, Clive Mathieson, and chief executive of both The Australian and News Digital Media, Richard Freudenstein.

One blogger there, Gavin Heaton, wrote that the editoral team would “tweak content between pay and free spaces according to time of day, popularity, etc”.

Another attendee, Karalee Evans, wrote that the editor-in-chief, Chris Mitchell, would have the final say of what would be “paywalled” or not, but that columnists would be.

Its general news site, news.com.au, would “never” be a paid model, Evans reported.

News Ltd confirmed today that a digital pass for the website, apps and a mobile site would be $2.95 a week, $4.50 for digital plus a Saturday paper subscription and $7.95 for a weekly print and digital subscription.

Existing print subscribers would get free digital access.

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