THE TIMES' attempt to charge users for what can be found on the world wide web for free has cost the newspaper's website the majority of its readers.
Rupert Murdoch's flagship newspaper in the UK installed a paywall, which meant that users had to pay to read the content. While the number of readers was expected to fall, it appears that the numbers have been so drastic that it is unlikely to be sustainable.
According to the Observer, the Times now has only a third of its previous online readership.
Murdoch, who controls News International, the owner of the Times, announced the decision last month to install a paywall around the newspaper and its sister weekly, the Sunday Times.
His idea is the opposite of those who believe drawing a mass audience with free news will eventually deliver strong advertising revenues.
The Observer said that in the week following the introduction of the paywall on 2 July, visits to the Times site fell to 33 per cent of its pre-registration level.
However it is not as bad as some had been predicting. Some had thought that the site would lose 90 per cent of its traffic.
Speculation has been that the drop might have been softened by an introductory charge of £1 for the first 30 days. Murdoch wants to charge £1 per day for access to the site or £2 for a week. It is expected that once the special offer is off, the Times will be history.
This is similar to the model which runs the Wall Street Journal. However the WSJ is more of a specialist financial daily and people who read it tend to need it. Who reads the Times? µ
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