AddThis SmartLayers

Publisher brings in paywall option on dozens of weeklies’ websites

A regional publisher has introduced online subscription on the websites of around 40 of its weekly newspapers.

Newsquest has brought in the measure at titles across the country after rolling out a metered paywall on the sites of its regional dailies last month.

The scheme invites readers to sign up to a subscription of either £4.99 per month or £52 per year, and has been introduced after the company recorded its highest year-on-year web growth last month.

In return, those who sign up will receive access to unlimited articles, up to an 80pc reduction in visible advertising on the site and the ability to post comments online.

Warrington sub

Explaining the decision to introduce the measure at her title, Basingstoke Gazette editor Katie French posted on Twitter: “It is no secret the industry has been hit hard by COVID-19.

“In April, we had the highest year-on-year web growth across Newsquest. To protect our future, we need to ask for your support.

“Whether we are fighting against the closure of libraries, shining a light on the scourge of county lines or campaigning to save sports grounds, our readers are at the heart of everything that we do.

“Some readers may not know this but we are the only publication to cover courts and local government in our area. We cut through the spin and ask tough questions on your behalf to get to the truth.

“If you read us and want to support us, please sign up today to ensure we can keep going and do what we do best.”

Newsquest previously told HTFP readers will be required to register after reading 20 articles in a month and will be asked to subscribe after reading 40, although coronavirus-related news will not be included in the tally.

A company spokesman said at the time: “We continue to believe that the online local news model will be predominantly a free to access one for the foreseeable future.

“However, we have been running digital subscriptions across a number of our sites for some time with encouraging results, and we will now be extending this approach to 20 more large sites.

“By users only needing to register if they wish to read more than 20 articles per month, and only need to pay if they wish to consume more than 40 articles per month, we ensure that our local news sites remain the number one trusted community hub – typically read by more than 70pc of the local population – whilst also developing new revenues and new opportunities from data.

“Users will not need to subscribe for coronavirus news updates so that this important local information remains free to all users. The majority of Newsquest’s local sites will continue to be entirely free to access.”

HTFP has requested a full list of participating titles from Newsquest, but has found ‘subscribe’ buttons on the following sites:

Ardrossan Herald
Basingstoke Gazette
Bracknell News
Bridgwater Mercury
Bridport and Lyme Regis News
Border Telegraph
Bucks Free Press
Bury Times
Chester Standard
Clacton Gazette
Clydebank Post
Craven Herald
Dunfermline Press
East London & West Essex Guardian
East Lothian Courier
Falmouth Packet
Gloucestershire Gazette
Hampshire Chronicle
Hereford Times
Hexham Courant
Impartial Reporter
Keighley News
Kidderminster Shuttle
Malvern Gazette
News Shopper series
Northwich Guardian
Oswestry & Border Counties Advertizer
Powys County Times
Ryedale Gazette & Herald
Salisbury Journal
Somerset County Gazette
St Helens Star
Stourbridge News
Stroud News & Journal
Warrington Guardian
Watford Observer
Westmorland Gazette
Wiltshire Gazette & Herald
Wirral Globe
Workington Times & Star