The chief executive of Johnston Press has appeared to rule out any further moves towards imposing paywalls on the company’s newspaper websites.
Temporary paywalls were introduced at six of the publisher’s local newspaper sites last November, but the experiment proved a flop and was later quietly dropped.
Instead he suggested that iPhone Apps would be a potentially more lucrative source of revenue for the regional press in future.
Mr Fry told the Mail that he saw “no case” for erecting paywalls around JP’s online operations as Rupert Murdoch has done with the Times and Sunday Times.
“With the internet it’s free and has been from the beginning. After 15 years of free it’s hard to change people’s habits,” he said.
However he suggested that software packages delivering news to mobile phones, such as The Scotsman’s recently launched iPhone applications, were the way forward.
“People seem to be willing to pay for apps, even if it’s small amounts of money,” he added.
In the interview, Mr Fry also admitted that the company had faced difficulties in servicing its £480m debt, with a restructuring deal agreed with the banks last summer doubling its debt repayments for the first six months of the year to more than £20m.
Mr Fry commented wrily: “That perhaps explains why the banks are so profitable.”