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Sat, Jul 11, 2009 - Page 10 News List

NY Times considers charging for Web site access

AGREE OR DISAGREE? The newspaper company has experimented with charging fees for Web site access before, but shut the program down after two years

AFP AND NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

The New York Times Company is considering charging a fee for access to its Web site, and has begun asking its print edition subscribers how such a charge would affect their subscriptions.

In a survey targeting existing subscribers, the media company said it was “considering charging a monthly fee of US$5 to access its content, including all its articles, blogs and multimedia.”

The survey then asks: “How likely would you be to pay a US$2.50 monthly fee — which would be a 50 percent discount for home delivery subscribers — for continued, unlimited access to nytimes.com?”

At present, users can access all content on the nytimes.com Web site for free, but the company has experimented with access charges.

In 2005, it launched Times Select, which charged a fee for access to some opinion and editorial ­content, but it shut the program down two years later.

The proposal described by the survey on Thursday suggested a much broader attempt to increase revenue for the media firm, amid falling profits across the industry.

Company spokeswoman Catherine Mathis said that a monthly access fee was only one possibility of several that were being considered.

“We are doing research on a variety of scenarios,” Mathis said.

The survey on Thursday seemed designed to gauge the effect of ­additional charges on the New York Times’ existing print subscription base, asking subscribers to respond to a survey about possible fees.

Respondents were asked to click on a range of options from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree” in response to statements including: “I would gladly pay for access to nytimes.com in order to support the Times’ quality journalism” and “I think it is wrong for the New York Times to charge anyone for access to nytimes.com.”

The company has postponed Wednesday’s deadline for prospective buyers of the Boston Globe to submit preliminary bids for the newspaper, people briefed on the sales process said. No new date has been set for the bids.

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