Paywalls more than double at N.A. papers

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Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013 11:00 am

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

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 Post-Dispatch 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 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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