Lee sets 1st metered fee systems

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Posted: Monday, August 1, 2011 12:01 pm | Updated: 12:12 pm, Mon Aug 8, 2011.

Lee Enterprises Inc. Aug. 1 rolled out its first digital subscriber system, putting into effect metered paywalls at papers it owns in the Rocky Mountain West.

In Montana, The Helena Independent Record, Billings Gazette, Montana Standard in Butte, Missoulian in Missoula and Ravalli Republic, along with the Casper (Wyo.) Star Tribune, launched the systems, which allow consumers to read up to 15 premium pages per month before being asked to pay.

Gerry O'Brien, editor of the Independent Record, wrote in a column that among the pages that readers will have to pay to see after the 15-page threshold are local, state, national and world news pages; local and regional sports; photos, comments and videos; and news accessed by Facebook and Twitter.

"The key to keep in mind is that our local content is generated by local reporters, photographers, editors and other staff," O'Brien wrote. "Their hard work is certainly worth something to our readers, as evidenced by our longtime newspaper subscribers. So it's time to start charging for our work online. It's a testament to the value of our staff."

The Independent Record is charging $4.99 per month for a digital subscription; existing print subscribers will be charged $1.99 per month.

Lee is using Press+ software to underpin its metered strategy.

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