Britain’s Times and Sunday Times newspapers on Tuesday launched their redesigned websites for which users will have to pay subscription fees from June in what is a groundbreaking move for the newspaper industry.
The decision to charge for online newspaper content was announced last August by media magnate Rupert Murdoch, who owns the two titles, as well as The Sun and the News of the World in Britain.
Mr. Murdoch’s News International group also owns the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in the US, where subscription fees have already been introduced.
According to News International, the WSJ has one of the most successful paid—for sites with more than 400,000 electronic subscribers.
The move, to be introduced from June 1, is likely to be closely watched by other newspapers in Britain.
Online readers in Britain will be offered a week’s subscription to the two titles for 2 pounds (2.86 dollars), while a day’s access will cost 1 pound.
Existing subscribers to the print editions will be given free online access. International pricing has been set at two 2 dollars per day and 4 dollars per week.
The two tabloids, The Sun and News of the World are to start charging for online content at a later date.
Recent figures showed that the Times and Sunday Times titles have about 1.2 million daily online users.
Times editor James Harding said on Tuesday that the paper expected to lose about 90 per cent of its online readership, whom he described as “window shoppers.” From June 1, the previously joint website address for the two titles will be replaced by two news sites accessible under www.the times.co.uk and www.sundaytimes.co.uk.