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Scottish daily newspaper introduces online paywall

A Scottish daily newspaper has put nearly all of its online content behind a paywall with readers invited to pay £2-99 a month to read its stories.

In one of the boldest online paywall experiments in the industry to date, the Greenock Telegraph has moved its website to a subscription model as of yesterday.

Only a small number of stories – marked as ‘free reads’ on the site – will now be available to view for free.

The move comes just days after the UK’s biggest-selling regional daily, the Wolverhampton-based Express and Star, announced it had scrapped its own partial paywall after nine months.

Publishers Clyde and Forth Media say the Telegraph’s digital audience has grown to 31,000 registered users over the past year.

Its print edition sold an average of 14,342 copies a day in the period January-June 2011 according to the most recent ABC figures.

Editor Anne Caine said: “With more than 150 years of proud tradition under our belt, the Telegraph is the home of local news, and it is now moving into an exciting new era.

“A phenomenal number of people, more than 30,000 and increasing every day, have already signed up to enjoy our terrific site, and many of those readers have told us how much they enjoy it.

“We hope that they will see the very modest charge we are making for our terrific content as exceptional value for money.

“This is a very bold and groundbreaking step for a group the size of Clyde and Forth Media to take, but we are confident we are offering readers a fantastic site that delivers all they need in terms of local news – throughout the day.”

To subscribe to the website will cost just £2.99 a month initially, with a cost of £3.99 if users also subscribe to the print edition.

The company plans to launch apps for tablets and smartphones in the coming weeks.

11 comments

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  • January 24, 2012 at 11:09 am
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    Wouldn’t it be nice if an editor announced a plan which would benefit the newspaper at the expense of the website. It’s always the other way about, yet the websites simply do not make any money.

    I also noticed Northcliffe’s latest idea is to franchise its appalling Local People network, promising people potential £5,000 – you read that right – a month salaries (and by the way it’ll cost you £8,000 just to sign up).

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  • January 24, 2012 at 11:43 am
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    Old Cynic – it’s been proven that newspapers paywalls do not work time and time again, maybe the Times are happy with their system but Johnston Press failed and the Wolverhampton experiment failed. I really don’t understand why you’d try the experiment again.

    All that will happen is they will get a small number of subscribers and kill off their web audience and any growth for their website. People just don’t like paying for web articles, especially if there are alternative sources.

    You may not like it but I reckon if your going to follow a website model I’d put forward the Daily Mail’s template, whatever you think of their content they are a hugely popular site.

    I would say this would involve making a website with lots of content written specifically for the web audience and not simply feeding newspaper content straight into whatever CMS they are using.

    I believe the traditional model of advertising is still a much better option than the paywall. It isn’t great but it’s the better option of the two.

    And then what they really need to do is to get their motors, jobs and property platforms creating the bulk of website revenue because I think trying to make serious money from content is a folly.

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  • January 24, 2012 at 11:44 am
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    Yes, moving into an exciting new era of seeing 30,000 readers disappear overnight.

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  • January 24, 2012 at 12:38 pm
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    Old cynic – Dave doesn’t have to offer an alterative because there isn’t really a viable one. Why try this idea when it has failed miserably in the past? It has been said many times – newspapers entered the digital game far too late. Plain and simple.

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  • January 24, 2012 at 12:59 pm
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    I’m sorry, I don’t understand the line: “To subscribe to the website will cost just £2.99 a month initially, with a cost of £3.99 if users also subscribe to the print edition.”
    Surely this is encouraging people not to buy the print edition. I may be a simple fool, but for me it beggars belief.
    Is the newspaper industry now punishing people for buying newspapers?

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  • January 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm
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    If anyone could make real money out of online publishing they would have done it by now. Seems to me that the only money to be made is in selling sites with the promise of future advertising revenue potential, with Huffington Post being one example.

    If the publishers take their blinkers off and start looking over the horizon they will see a bleak future for print unless they change the business model dramatically. The future newspaper has to be free, with greatly increased pagination and high quality content to get readers and advertisers back, and websites that complement, not compete with the printed offering.

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  • January 24, 2012 at 3:45 pm
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    Agree that I cannot see Pay Walls working on local papers.

    The Johnston experiment was a huge failure (I was an employee there at the time) and no matter what you offer there will always be a free alternative.

    I’m sure many people would rather read reprinted press releases on free community sites then pay to read what is in the local paper.

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  • January 24, 2012 at 4:13 pm
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    I’m all for trying things, but I can’t for the life of me see how these publishing groups can survive AND keep turning a profit. There is no answer and this proposal is just another thumb in another leak sprung in the newspaper dam. Really sad. For example, I used to be on the Times website all the time. As soon as they made me pay, i got info from Mail, Telegraph and Guardian, as well as the Beeb. Didn’t miss the Times VERY quickly. Soon as people break the habit it’s hard to get them back.

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  • January 24, 2012 at 5:53 pm
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    Interesting to see the number of “comments” each news story has received since they started charging compared to the number of comments per story previously. 0 comments, 0 comments, 0 comments, 0 comments, 0 comments, etc.

    How to destroy a community in one easy step.

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